Classical Chinese (FLM3015)

StaffDr Yan Wen-Thornton - Convenor
Dr Xiaoxi Sun - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesInterview to establish native level of Chinese language skills
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module introduces and builds on the principles of Classical Chinese and aims to allow you to:

  • Learn the fundamentals of Classical Chinese grammar, syntax and vocabulary from Classical (pre-Han to Han) and Literary Chinese (post-Han) texts.
  • Develop greater appreciation of the richness of the Chinese literary tradition by reading selected works of prose and poetry
  • Be able to read related literatures and gain a deeper understanding of the research tools available for studying Classical Chinese texts and analysis.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Explain the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of classical and literary Chinese and master the range of genres in which educated Chinese wrote in the past and their development.
  • 2. Read, write, translate, research, and provide further analysis of classical literature and interpretation of Chinese philosophy.
  • 3. Appreciate some of the ways in which classical Chinese has influenced modern Chinese language and culture.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Communicate fluently and spontaneously, orally and/or in writing on complex topics.
  • 5. Read and/or write certain types of texts in classical and literary Chinese with the help of annotations and other reference resources.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Work pro-actively with others as part of a team, react and adapt to some unexpected situations as appropriate and involving discussion.
  • 7. Be able to give structured and/or unstructured oral presentation on selected topics and/or literature.
  • 8. Research and write a literature review on a topic related to the texts, providing further critical argument and analysis, to demonstrate understanding of classical and literary Chinese. Where applicable, be able to make links to their use in modern Chinese.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Poetry from the Six Dynasties, Tang and Song periods
  • Prose works from Chinese philosophy including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, the three main philosophies and religions of ancient China, which have individually and collectively influenced ancient and modern Chinese society
  • The Four Great Classic Novels including Journey to the West, Outlaws of the Marsh, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber, written during the Ming and Qing dynasties
  • Prose texts from the classical and imperial period of political and historiographical traditions
  • Essays and other miscellanies (e.g. drama) from the later literary tradition

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching44Language classes: Teaching methods are based on lectures and discussion materials provided on the weekly topics. The module is taught in Mandarin Chinese.
Guided Independent Study106Consolidation of learning; learning activities are supported by various media, including audio-visual resources, and, where appropriate, computer software.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
4 formative tasksVariable1-8Written and/or oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation5020-30 minutes (approx.10 mins per individual)1-4, 6, 7Written (and oral upon request)
Research Essay503000 Chinese characters (simplified or traditional)1-6, 8Written (and oral upon request)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group presentation - 20-30 minutes (approx.10 mins per individual)Individual presentation (10 minutes)1-4, 6, 7Referral/Deferral period
Research essay - 3000 Chinese characters (simplified or traditional)Research essay - 3000 Chinese characters (simplified or traditional)1-6, 8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certified reasons judged as acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

There is no course book for this module and a study pack is posted on ELE weekly.

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

China, Classical Chinese, Mandarin, Culture, Literature