Skip to main content

Staff profiles

Photo of Dr Yan Wen-Thornton

Dr Yan Wen-Thornton

Lecturer (E&S)


01392 725759


Having been educated and lived in both China and UK, Dr Yan has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the culture and history in both the East and the West. She joined University of Exeter in 2009 and she has been involved in teaching and assessment for Chinese language, culture and business subject at various levels. In particular, Dr Yan has designed and taught the Heritage  course which received very positive feedback from students.

 In Sept. 2022, Dr Yan has created and delivers a new course, Classical Chinese, at the Language centre, which has proved very popular among Chinese native speakers and/or nearer native speakers. It introduces students to classic Chinese  literature and ancient language from the periods of Spring -Autumn and the Warring States to the end of Qing dynasty.This enables students to understand the traditional Chinese civilization giving learners access to the rich Chinese achievements in philosophy, literature and Art. This is a “Milestone pioneering work “commented the Chinese academic experts.


Other responsibilities and roles:

Team leader/Co-ordinator for Asian languages 2013- present

Leading organizer for Open Days and OHVDs events 2013- present

Project manager and head academic manager for the Higher Education Young Talent Alliance (HEYTA) annual conference hosted by the University of Exeter and supported by Tsinghua University between June- Sept. 2022 

External examiner for Oxford Brookes University 2016-2020

External examiner for Keele University 2015-2019

External examiner for York St John University 2015-2019




Research interests

Research projects and research interests:

Dr Yan is the first PhD researcher, who studied the longitudinal study of Chinese women entrepreneurs that focused specifically on the Chinese governments three decades economic reform period from 1980s-2000s. Her research has made a significant contribution to women entrepreneurship and to discover how Chinese culture, government policy and massive domestic market demand have influenced and affected Chinese womens’ entrepreneurial identity and their motivation to start-up new companies. Furthermore, Dr Yan is interested in Gender, literature and Psychology studies, she was awarded a qualification in Psychology studies by Oxford University.

Key conferences and workshops:

  • Organised  the Higher Education Young Talent Alliance (HEYTA) annual summit  hosted by the university of Exeter and supported by Tsinghua University and awarded  The Outstanding Advisor & Outstanding organiser by the UK-China Humanities Alliance (UKCHA). Sept.2022


  • Attended the workshop on Teaching and Learning Chinese through Students' and Teachers' Perspectives organised by Macmillan Education and the Confucius Institute at Oxford Brookes University, July 2022


  • Paper title “The approach of intercultural competence in learning Chinese characters for Beginners “ , presented on  The 18th International Conference on Teaching and Learning Chinese in Higher Education, Organised by the British Chinese Language Teaching Society (BCLTS), hosted & co-organised by the Confucius Institute and Bangor University, July 2021


  • Organised the event “East Asian Food Tasting to Celebrate New Year.( Due to Covid-19, we had to cancel it in the last minute. However, we had received more than 100 students and staff registered), Feb.2020


  • Paper title “How to apply Drama techniques to enhance speaking skills and motivation in the Advanced Chinese classroom”, presented  on International Symposium on Intercultural Communication and Chinese Language Teaching, hosted by King’s College London, June 2019.


  • Attended the national conference “Reconsidering the Uniqueness and the Commonalities of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language”, hosted by Warwick University and Coventry University. July 2018
  • Attended the national conference Colloquium on Innovation in Modern Languages Education, hosted by Cardiff University. June 2017
  • Attended and contributed to the workshop “Subject expert panel for Modern Foreign Languages – Panel meeting for AS and AL, hosted by Cambridge International Examinations. Sept. 2015
  • Attended the international conference -Association of University Language Centres in the UK and Ireland, hosted by The University of Cambridge. Jan. 2014
  • Organised and presented “A taste of Chinese language and culture “summer courses for international  students events hosted by international office, University of Exeter. 2011-2013
  • Involved and delivered  short courses for TESOL at INTO 2010-2012



Book: Years in the UK -《留英歲月》published by China 四川教育电子音像出版社 2021


Co-supervisor for MA Translation studies in Dissertation 2009-2011


External impact and engagement



 Edit profile