Applying for Oriental Studies at Oxford Watch

AlexBakSik
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Hi guys,

First post here, I'm hoping to gain some advise on applying for the Chinese Oriental Studies course at Oxford University.

I am currently a year 12 student studying AS Physics, Maths, History and Spanish.

My current qualifications are:

GCSEs:

Maths A*
English Lit A
English Lang A
Physics A*
Chemistry A
Biology A
History A*
Geography A
French A
Spanish A
ICT Distinction

Other:

AS Psychology B
FSMQ Additional Maths A

I am half English, half Chinese. My mother was born to Hong Kong emigrants who settled in the UK. I have no experience with the Mandarin language, but a little with Cantonese. I find the culture and history of China very interesting and have researched it in my own time, as well as experiencing the culture through my family.

In order to study the course at Oxford, you do not have to take an OLAT, but I know that they look highly upon applicants who show their interest in the subject through their extra curricular activities. I hope to do an extended project regarding life growing up in occupied Hong Kong and pre-1949 China and I have also been accepted for this year's History UCL Uni-Link course, however I would really appreciate opinions on realistic chances of studying at Oxford, and any suggestions on activities that I can undergo to improve my application!

Thanks!
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OUSUACCAFF
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Hey,

If you have a good academic record, are excited about the subject, and expect to meet the standard offer (AAA) then an application is definitely realistic.

Good luck!
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AlexBakSik
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Any ideas of activities for a personal statement, besides workshops, reading and seminars?
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OUSUACCAFF
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(Original post by AlexBakSik)
Any ideas of activities for a personal statement, besides workshops, reading and seminars?
They sound ideal.

It is less about packing your personal statement with tons and tons of examples and more about trying to draw out what you have learnt from the things you have done/read and how they have helped you to reflect on your subject or whatever. Like try and leave space to talk about the things rather than just list books, workshops and seminars.

If you can convey that you are bright and really engaged with the subject you've applied for then you've written a decent personal statement
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TheTechN1304
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(Original post by AlexBakSik)
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Hey,

First focus on getting good AS grades. Your GCSEs are good, but are probably below average for Oxford (around 6A*s for Oriental Studies). If you get high UMS in your AS, then it might be worth thinking about applying to Cambridge instead, as they tend to value high UMS at AS over GCSE grades, whereas Oxford places more emphasis on GCSE grades and less on AS UMS (you don't even have to declare your UMS for Oxford).

I would suggest doing a bit of reading into the aspects of Chinese that you find interesting, and thinking about why you find them interesting. Things like history and literature are quite broad and there is a lot to discover, so that's potentially a place to start. Also, I'd read into the Oxford course and work out what it is about it that you like, and how it would cater to your interests.

I think Oxford tends to be more interested in you showing your passion for your subject and you being self motivated and driven, so anything you put in your personal statement that shows that would be good.

I applied for Oriental Studies (Japanese) this year and got an offer, so feel free to PM me if you want any advice on the sorts of things I did or the process with Oxford in general.
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spacepirate-James
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(Original post by AlexBakSik)
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If you want any specific recommendations on great/famous Chinese or Japanese books [novels, non-fiction etc.] then let me know. Reading some of the classic/contemporary texts might be a good way to show your passion!
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AlexBakSik
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(Original post by TheTechN1304)
Hey,

First focus on getting good AS grades. Your GCSEs are good, but are probably below average for Oxford (around 6A*s for Oriental Studies). If you get high UMS in your AS, then it might be worth thinking about applying to Cambridge instead, as they tend to value high UMS at AS over GCSE grades, whereas Oxford places more emphasis on GCSE grades and less on AS UMS (you don't even have to declare your UMS for Oxford).

I would suggest doing a bit of reading into the aspects of Chinese that you find interesting, and thinking about why you find them interesting. Things like history and literature are quite broad and there is a lot to discover, so that's potentially a place to start. Also, I'd read into the Oxford course and work out what it is about it that you like, and how it would cater to your interests.

I think Oxford tends to be more interested in you showing your passion for your subject and you being self motivated and driven, so anything you put in your personal statement that shows that would be good.

I applied for Oriental Studies (Japanese) this year and got an offer, so feel free to PM me if you want any advice on the sorts of things I did or the process with Oxford in general.
Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it.

I really doubt my UMS will be good enough for Cambridge, and there has always been something about Oxford that appealed to me over Cambridge.

I am of mixed ethnic origin, my father is English and my mother is from Hong Kong. I have a basic general knowledge of 20th Century history, but need to read up on broader history and culture. As for the language, I know a little spoken Cantonese, but no Mandarin- Did you have much prior knowledge of Japanese before applying?

Apart from reading and seminars, I'm not really sure what else i could do to advocate my passion for the subject; I believe that if I was given an interview I could, but I am unsure what to do to ensure being offered an interview. I applied for Cambridge's summer school for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, but unfortunately, UNIQ doesn't offer an Oriental summer course.

As for the interview, what kind of aspects did they focus on?

Thanks for the help!
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AlexBakSik
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(Original post by spacepirate-James)
If you want any specific recommendations on great/famous Chinese or Japanese books [novels, non-fiction etc.] then let me know. Reading some of the classic/contemporary texts might be a good way to show your passion!
I have many history books at home, I even have Mao's Little Red Book somewhere! XD
I will probably read the Tao Te Ching but I would really appreciate some suggestions for other texts!
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spacepirate-James
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(Original post by AlexBakSik)
I have many history books at home, I even have Mao's Little Red Book somewhere! XD
I will probably read the Tao Te Ching but I would really appreciate some suggestions for other texts!
This comes from a list I made a while ago for somebody else. I haven't included any drama or poetry [but there's plenty of anthologies for that] or general non-fiction/historical texts, since it's literary fiction that's more my interest. What's also missing is Tang or Song prose, Soviet prose, some HK writers [Dorothy Tse] and Taiwanese writing [but check out Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre]. Obviously nobody is saying read all of these but the ones below should be translated into English and give you a lot of options to explore. The ones in asterisks are some good starting points of the key stuff.

If you are interested in Modern-Contemporary Chinese Literature in general then these anthologies are pretty good:

The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature
China's Avant Garde Fiction: An Anthology
Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused: Fiction From Today's China
New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, 1990-2012

Combination of Four Books and Five Classics
600 BC - Various, Book of Documents
600 BC - Laozi, Tao Te Ching*
500 BC - Sun Wu, The Art of War*
300 BC - Anonymous, I Ching*
300 BC - Zhuang Zhou, Zhuangzi
210 BC - Confucius, Analects*
200 BC - Various, Book of Rites
300 BC - Mencius, Mencius*

Five Great Novels
1300 - Shi Nai’an, Water Margin
1300 - Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms
1500 - Wu Chenen, Journey to the West*
1610 - Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng, The Plum in the Golden Vase
1700 - Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber*
1766 - Pu Songling, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio*

Modern
1922 - Lu Xun, Call to Arms*
1928 - Ding Lin, Stories
1930 - Mu Shiying, Stories
1932 - Mao Dun, Spring Silkworms
1933 - Ba Jin, The Torrents Trilogy*
1934 - Shen Congwen, Border Town
1936 - Lao She, Rickshaw Boy*
1978 - Chen Ruoxi, The Execution of Mayor Yin*
1979 - Eileen Chang, Love in a Fallen City*

Contemporary
1983 - Li Ang, The Butcher’s Wife
1987 - Mo Yan, Red Sorghum Clan*
1989 - Wang Shuo, Please Don’t Call Me Human
1990 - Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain*
1990 - Su Tong, Wives and Concubines*
1993 - Yu Hua, To Live*
1995 - Wang Anyi, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow
1996 - Chen Ran, Private Life
1996 - Han Shaogong, A Dictionary of Maqiao*
2004 - Lu Jiamin, Wolf Totem
2006 - Yan Lianke, Dream of Ding Village
2009 - Ma Jian, Beijing Coma
2010 - Ah Cheng, The King of Trees
2014 - Can Xue, The Last Lover*
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