Chinese and Thai Studies BA

Year of entry

2025 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
5 years full time
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students working in Language Zone

China today constitutes almost a fifth of the global economy, and is a major centre for technological, business and cultural innovation, while Thailand has undergone a radical economic, political and social transformation in recent decades. This degree will allow you to develop both Chinese and Thai language skills to an advanced level, while discovering the cultural, political and historical context of these fascinating countries.

We teach both languages from beginners’ level, but if you have some prior knowledge we can normally accommodate you. You’ll build your skills in each language through core modules, and you’ll be introduced to the culture, history and politics of China, Thailand and the East Asian region.

A wide range of optional modules will expand your knowledge, allowing you to focus on Chinese culture, politics and society, and Thai history and religion, among others. One of the strengths of East Asian Studies at Leeds is that we have expertise spanning many diverse aspects of this fascinating region, which encompasses Northeast and Southeast Asia.

On this five-year course, you’ll spend two years abroad, with a year at a university in mainland China or Taiwan, and a year in Thailand giving you first-hand experience of the languages and cultures. You’ll have many opportunities to immerse yourself in China’s and Thailand’s rich and fascinating cultures, and you’ll be able to visit other East and Southeast Asian countries close by, such as Japan, South Korea, Burma, Laos and Cambodia.

During the upper years of your course, you’ll take advanced language modules in both languages, which use authentic materials and offer training in translation. Alongside these, you’ll develop your critical thinking and research skills as you choose optional modules exploring various aspects of Chinese, Thai and East Asian Studies, ranging from literature and visual cultures through to political economy and international relations. You’ll undertake a final-year project on a topic of your choosing, designed to showcase your knowledge and skills.

Specialist resources

With four libraries on campus, you’ll find space for study, group work and research. Our Chinese collection is one of the best collections of modern Chinese books in the country, alongside our Japanese holdings and a growing East Asian Studies and Thai collection. The world-class Brotherton Library holds a wide variety of manuscript, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections – valuable assets for your independent research. You’ll have access to free classes and workshops so you can learn how to find resources and develop your study skills.

Our Language Zone gives you access to free learning resources, including space for personal study, language learning software, and video, audio, books and magazines. You'll also have access to our translation computer labs equipped with specialist software and our interpreter training booths to explore different career options.

Take a look around our libraries:

Brotherton Library
Laidlaw Library
Edward Boyle Library

Course details

In your first year, you’ll take intensive language classes in both Chinese and Thai to develop your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, as well as selecting optional modules on the culture, history and politics of the East Asian region. You’ll learn both simplified and traditional Chinese characters from your first year.

A joint honours degree allows you to study the same core topics as students on each single honours course, but take fewer optional modules so you can fit in both subjects.

This will lay the foundations for the next two years, when you’ll gain further insight and improve your language skills by studying in China and Thailand. When you return to Leeds, you’ll have a new perspective to bring to your final two years of study.

Higher-level language classes will improve your spoken and written Thai and Chinese, and you’ll also explore topics such as the development of contemporary Thailand and China through core and optional modules.

In your final year, you’ll refine your language skills and choose from a wide range of optional modules on topics including Buddhism, regional politics in East Asia and Chinese literature and visual cultures. You’ll also demonstrate your knowledge and skills in an independent project, such as a piece of research, a translation or a documentary on a topic of your choice.

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Most courses consist of compulsory and optional modules. There may be some optional modules omitted below. This is because they are currently being refreshed to make sure students have the best possible experience. Before you enter each year, full details of all modules for that year will be provided.

For more information and a list of typical modules available on this course, please read BA Chinese and Thai Studies in the course catalogue.

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Basic Chinese Language 1 20
Basic Chinese Language 2 20
Basic Thai Language and Culture 1 20
Basic Thai Language and Culture 2 20

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Modern China: History and Culture 20
Japanese History and Society 20
Foundations of East Asia 20
Introduction to East Asian Religions 20

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Year Abroad in China 120
Year Abroad in Thailand 120

Year 3 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Year Abroad in China 120
Year Abroad in Thailand 120

Year 4 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
The Making of Modern Thailand 20
Chinese 2A 20
Chinese 2B 20
Intermediate Thai Language and Culture 1 20
Intermediate Thai Language and Culture 2 20

Year 4 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
China Since 1979 20
Japan's International Relations 20
Classical Chinese 20
Contemporary East Asian Culture 20
Chinese Cinema 20
Japanese Development Assistance in a Globalising World 20
Global Environmental Humanities 20
Global Korea 20

Year 5 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Chinese 3: Advanced Skills 20
Advanced Thai Language and Culture 20
Final Year Project: Dissertation, Translation, or Podcast 40

Year 5 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Chinese Oral and Performance Traditions 20
Religion in China 20
Civil Society and the Non-Profit Sector in Contemporary China 20
Modern Japanese History 20
East Asia's Regional Political Economy 20
Japanese Cinema in the World 20
Death and Religion in Japan 20
Sino-Japanese Relations: Past and Present 20
Buddhism: A Lived Tradition 20
Southeast Asia: Politics and Economy 20
Nature, Culture and Technology in Japan 20

Learning and teaching

Your lecturers are all experts in their fields, so you’ll benefit from their knowledge in lectures, workshops, small-group seminars and tutorials. You’ll build your language skills in practical and highly interactive classes, and as you progress, some modules may be taught in your target languages.

Independent learning is also a major part of the course, allowing you to build your research skills and think critically about the information you find. The University Library runs comprehensive training programmes to help you make the most of our resources.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We ensure inclusive assessment by making sure all our students are assessed in a range of ways. Listening, speaking, writing and reading are all tested, and our range of assessments includes essays, exams, literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, digital projects, poster presentations and translation projects. We offer training and support in these areas to equip you with the transferable skills you will need for your future careers – for example, we run extra classes on skills such as public speaking, structuring essays and exam technique that you’ll be able to attend throughout your time at Leeds.

You’ll regularly receive detailed feedback on your coursework, helping you to keep track of your progress.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

GCSE: Grade 4/C in a foreign language

Other course specific tests:

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

We welcome applications from mature students with Access qualifications, and from students with a wide range of qualifications.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required. This course has additional subject specific requirements. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.


BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma: DDM. Other BTEC qualifications are also considered. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

M1, M1, M2

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall including 16 at Higher Level and 4 in a foreign language at Standard Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers, or B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers, or AABBBB in Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 75%

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer: BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £24,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Contact us

School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

A degree in Chinese and Thai will give you valuable communication skills in the languages of two fast-growing countries which are increasingly important on the global stage. You’ll also have a real awareness of the complex and diverse cultures that make up the vibrant and powerful Asia Pacific region.

That will open a number of doors into a range of different careers, both within East Asia and around the world. However, it will also equip you with valuable transferable skills that are highly sought by all kinds of employers.

You’ll be able to work independently and research topics thoroughly, critically reflecting on what you have found and drawing your own conclusions – which you’ll then be able to clearly present and defend.

As a result, graduates have gone into a range of careers around the world, working in business, journalism, publishing, diplomacy, tourism, teaching, broadcasting, overseas aid work, PR and language-based roles such as translation and interpreting.

Postgraduate study in languages at Leeds or elsewhere provides an opportunity to continue to learn and prepare for a PhD and a career in academia.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers. Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty also offer help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Postgraduate study in languages at Leeds or elsewhere provides an opportunity to continue to learn and prepare for a PhD and a career in academia.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

You'll spend two years abroad studying a dedicated language course for non-native speakers at one of our partner institutions in each country. Of course, you’ll also have plenty of time to travel and explore China, Thailand and other parts of the East Asian region.

You’ll spend a year studying at an institution such as Chiang Mai University in Thailand, and a year at a university in China or Taiwan.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to develop your language skills and gain a new appreciation of both Chinese and Thai cultures. It can also really enhance your CV. For many of our students, it’s the highlight of their degree.

Read more about the Thai residence abroad

Read more about the Chinese residence abroad

You'll have access to support and advice before, during and after your study abroad year and you’ll be able to network with returning students for first-hand advice about living overseas. You'll also have meetings with the residence abroad tutor and access to online information before you relocate.

We’ll be in touch with you during your year abroad and you’ll have support at your host institution, too. On your return, we’ll ask you to share your experiences and help you to make the most of your new and improved skills and experience.