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School of Oriental and African Studies

question's about SOAS BA Chinese

I really want to apply for this course, I'm currently doing an access course that I started so I could then apply but then a few things happened in my life that meant I might not be able to go as I'd hoped. I'm thinking about ringing during clearing and seeing what my options are anyway, I might have things figured out by then.

I do have a few questions though for anyone doing or having done this course.

1) What do you do in the year abroad? Do you attend similar lectures and things whilst there or is it just a year of practicing your language skills irl?
2) How much roughly does the year abroad cost?
3) How in depth is the language education, do you feel like you've got a good level of the language in the time you've been there?
4) What did you do after you graduated, if you already have? I don't have a dream career and really just want to be able to study, but I am curious as to what jobs people go into after.
5) Did you have any knowledge of Chinese before starting the course?
Hi hereisamemory,

Final year SOAS BA Chinese student here, I'm happy to answer your questions!


The year abroad is split into three terms. I did mine in Taipei, but Beijing is also an option. Whilst you're in London you will do some online language tests with the new university that you will be joining. Once you've completed these tests and have been given a grade, you will be streamlined into appropriate courses; as our levels were all different after two years of study. For example, I started on Book 4, then I did 5, and then 6 (in each new term accordingly). It is simply a year of practicing your language skills, each book roughly corresponds to HSK levels, if you're familiar with them.


The year abroad is £1,385 for home students and £10,580 for international students. If you're a home student this will be covered by your tuition fee loan. You still get your maintenance loan whilst you're out there. There are also scholarships available, like the Turing for example, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to save up a bit beforehand for flights and accommodation, etc.


The year abroad is truly what you make it. Some people won't do much work and will go travelling & focus more on exploring. However, some will study hard every day and make an effort to make friends with native speakers, forcing them to speak the language daily. If you follow this route, you can absolutely get to HSK 5/6 in the year abroad, providing that you reached roughly 3/4 beforehand. The language school is intense, your teachers do not speak English with you, you are immersed in the language. You have homework every single day, dictation three times a week, presentations weekly or fortnightly, in-class discussions relating to the textbook, etc. Also the classes are 3 hours a day, every single day Monday-Friday, and attendance is recorded and sent back to SOAS. You don't get many holidays too, maybe a week at the end of each term.


As for what I’m up to now, I haven’t graduated yet but I am working as a Marketing Assistant at SOAS part-time. I am starting MSc China & Globalisation at King’s College London this September. I hope to do a PhD after that if I can find a funded one.


I had no knowledge at all! All I could say is hello, count 1 through 10, etc. However, I’d travelled through southern China for some time so I was familiar with the culture and customs.

All the best of luck with your application and sorry for such a long response!

P.S. If you have any more questions please don't hesitate to reach out 😁

Final Year Chinese UG Student
School of Oriental and African Studies

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