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Chinese at Pembroke is led by Professor Henrietta Harrison, whose specialist interests are in the area of modern and contemporary China. Pembroke admits two or three students each year for Chinese Studies, and as such has one of the largest cohorts of any College and an excellent College library collection for students.
The course lasts for four years, including a year abroad at Beijing University, and gives students an understanding of modern and traditional China. Chinese language forms the basis for any approach to the study of China and is central to the course. As well as being taught reading and writing skills, students receive training in interpreting and in giving oral presentations in modern standard Chinese. In addition all students also study classical Chinese, the language in which Chinese was written until the early twentieth-century and which gives access to all the treasures of China’s traditional literature and culture.
Chinese language however is never an end in itself, but a tool for learning about China. The degree includes year-long courses on traditional and contemporary China, as well as a wide range of options that cover Chinese culture, politics, society and history. By the third year students will be reading original texts in modern and classical Chinese and using these as part of their broader study of China.
Now with one of the world’s dominant economies, and all the opportunities and challenges that this presents, modern China and its language is an important player in many sectors and industries around the world. Many graduates of the Chinese Studies course go on to entrepreneurial careers related to China, with others moving into academia, journalism, NGOs, the city, and a huge range of other jobs.
The China Centre is Oxford University's hub for study and research in Chinese Studies. Pembroke undergraduates attend classes here, along with colleagues from other Colleges, and the Centre has an excellent library for all to use.
Pembroke College has made it a policy to build up interest in Oriental Studies and is the only undergraduate college to have three tutorial fellows from the Oriental Studies Faculty. Courses include Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Hebrew & Jewish Studies and Japanese.
The London Centre for Languages and Cultures (LCLC), partnered with Pembroke College, has produced a series of videos featuring Pembroke student Nabeela Zaman and Pembroke Fellow, Professor Henrietta Harrison.
Elizabeth Smith Rosser (DPhil Oriental Studies, 2016) has been working as a researcher in the production of a twenty-part BBC 4 Radio series on Chinese history.