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Sinology in Würzburg

Master 'Chinese Studies'

Degree Awarded Master of Arts
Program Duration 2 years, full time
ECTS Requirements 120 (50 semester hours)
Study plan Current: ASPO2017 [German] [English]
Earlier version: ASPO2012 [German] [English]
Qualification Goals Qualification goals Chinese Studies M.A. (German)
Careers Perspectives Careers perspectives Chinese Studies M.A. (German)
Application Deadline 15th March each year
Start Date September each year
Languages of Instruction English, Chinese, Japanese
Stay abroad 3rd semester at Peking University
Please send your application to please see below (Application Procedure & Entry Requirements)
Guidelines Style Sheet for Term Papers and M.A. Theses


This research-oriented Master’s program in Chinese Studies has been developed for graduates of B.A. programs in the Chinese Studies field (holding a B.A. in Sinology, Chinese Studies or equivalent qualification). It offers in-depth and small-group instruction in Chinese Studies by recognized experts in various fields. Students will take classes on both pre-modern and contemporary subjects, but will select one of these fields as their specialization. Students’ preferences for particular topics will be taken into account in determining the content of required elective classes (see below). Their research capabilities are strengthened through continuous methodology classes. This enables students to build up their expertise and enables them to undertake their own research in their master thesis. In addition to providing deep insights into China’s past and present internal dynamics the program equips students with an excellent command of both contemporary Standard Modern Chinese (advanced level) and Classical Chinese as well as with Basic Japanese language skills. The Master's program has first been accredited in 2011. In the process of recertification the Chinese Studies M.A. program has recently been accredited until 2027.

Graduates of this program (until 2017: 45 graduates) are well-prepared for conducting further academic research on China at the PhD level or for a broad array of jobs that require analytical skills as well as in-depth knowledge of the country’s history and current developments, such as in the cultural, political, social and economic fields.

The Department of Sinology in Würzburg is keen to support students in special living circumstances (e.g. students with children), and to help them realize their study aim.

Program Structure

The program commences in September and takes place both in Würzburg and in Beijing: during the first two semesters students are based in Würzburg; the third semester is situated at Peking University in China. The final semester is intended for writing the master thesis, again based in Würzburg. The stay abroad at Peking University is obligatory and integrated into the program, the credit points earned in Beijing are an integral part of the course.

The program comprises compulsory language courses and required electives, divided into the following areas of study:

Compulsory Courses

Since language is the basis for understanding both cultural history and contemporary society, the program pays particular attention to language training. Modern Chinese language courses begin from an advanced level and comprise 12 semester hours over three terms (15 ECTS credit points). Classical Chinese Language courses are made up of 15 semester hours (21 ECTS credit points). Modern Japanese classes account for 12 semester hours (16 ECTS credit points). In the track Transformation in Contemporary China students may choose between Gudai Hanyu and Japanese. The intensive and advanced language training allows for continuity of Chinese language practice and therefore meets the need of high-level language proficiency. Classical Chinese and Modern Japanese do not require previous training. Research Methods comprise 4 semester hours (5 ECTS credit points) as well as a module on Academic Writing (8 ECTS credit points, 2 semester hours). Ongoing track specific methodological training enhances research ability.

Required Electives

The program proceeds from the insight that studies of China’s cultural history and contemporary developments complement each other: in order to comprehend current social, political and economic trends a basic historical and cultural understanding has to be in place. Likewise, historical events are best treated not as isolated incidents but seen as combinations of heritage and innovation that have repercussions to the modern period. Therefore, the program offers courses in both “Heritage and Innovation in Late Imperial China” in the pre-modern period as well as “Transformation in Contemporary China.” Students are required to take classes in both fields, but select one as their area of specialization. After being admitted to the program students are asked to decide on the track they want to focus on during the following two years. Accordingly, their teaching and research will put more weight on either the track “Transformation in Contemporary China” or on the track “Heritage and Innovation in Late Imperial China.”

Required electives account for 14 semester hours (31 ECTS credit points), of which 8 semester hours (21 ECTS credit points) are to be taken in the self-selected field of specialization. In addition, two special compulsory methodology classes will be offered for those students who focus on contemporary topics (“Social Science Research on China”) and historical topics (“Historical Science Research on China”). These classes will familiarize the students with the most common paradigms and theories as well as methodologies in their respective fields of interest in preparation of their own MA thesis. An overview of courses for both the contemporary and pre-modern tracks can be downloaded here.

Transformation in Contemporary China

This module comprises research areas on contemporary China. Apart from focusing on the People’s Republic of China, developments on Taiwan are also taken into account. Students’ preferences are taken into account when deciding on the specific classes for each year.

Heritage and Innovation in Late Imperial China

In this module teaching and research focuses on the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. The terms “Heritage” and “Innovation” clarify cultural as well as societal continuities, and they point to influences from internal and external innovative forces. The research areas comprise the following:

Application Procedure & Entry Requirements

Required application documents:

  • Bachelor’s certificate of a China related degree program (minimum requirement: 40 ECTS in Chinese language and 20 ECTS in China related / Chinese Studies courses) with a grade of 1.9 (B) or above (accreditation of comparable degree programs is possible). A copy of the certificate should be handed in together with a copy of the diploma supplement.
  • If the Bachelor’s degree has not yet been completed, documentation of the performance in the study program is to be provided (a minimum of 130 ECTS is to be documented).
  • Proof of stays abroad in (greater) China or a minimum of 20 ECTS (or corresponding) acquired in a program taught in Chinese language at a university in (greater) China (greater China: mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore). If you were unable to stay abroad (i.e. due to the Corona pandemic), then please read the FAQ.
  • Proof of English proficiency (minimum requirement: B2 Common European framework of reference for languages, corresponding to TOEFL 72, IELTS 6.0, Deutsche Hochschulzugangsberechtigung: Englisch 7 Punkte, graduation of an English high school or university program).
  • CV
  • Letter of Motivation, including a statement of track preference

Please send the required application documents via e-mail to Dr. Michael Leibold ( You may also send your documents via mail to

Institut für Kulturwissenschaften Ost- und Südasiens - Sinologie
Kommission Chinese Studies
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg

Please note: you do not need to have your documents verified by uni assist.

Each shortlisted applicant will be invited either for a personal or a telephone interview, depending on the applicant’s current place of residence. Only when all application material has been reviewed and subsequent interviews with shortlisted applicants have been conducted, successful candidates will have to go through the formal admission process of the International Office of Würzburg University.

Application deadline for the program starting in September is 15 March.

For further inquiries please contact Dr. Michael Leibold (, but make sure to first read the FAQ.