Confucian Classical Studies MA

Course Overview

This Programme will focus on advanced-level engagement with Classical Chinese Confucian texts and the spiritual, cultural and political values and practices that they embody.

Modules will focus on enhancing understanding of Classical Chinese and methodologies such as textual criticism, commentary, and textual analysis.

This will be followed by modules which are thematically organised around the study of key texts from within The Complete Library of the Four Branches Literature and The Essence Encyclopedia of the Four Branches of Literature. Textual study modules are thematically focused, and will consider issues such as the origins and content of key texts, and the history of and developments in translation and commentary.

Confucian Classics Studies (SICH7013) will explore some of the main texts of Confucianism, and interpretations of the philosophy and the cultural impact of these texts, including The Book of I Ching, The Book of History and Three Annals of Spring and Autumn.

Interpretation of The Four Books (SICH7002) will focus on the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Confucian Analects, and the Book of Mencius. Readings from the Governing Principles of Ancient China (SICH7003) will focus on the Exoteric traditions of the Han version of the Songs, the Sayings of Confucius and his disciples, the Six Secret Strategic Teachings, An Essay on Government by Liu Yi, Yangzi Book on Government and On the Important List of Government.

Readings from The Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles (SICH7010) will focus on key Confucian texts from the Compilation including, for example, Luxuriant Dew of the Spring and Autumn Annals and The Book of Discussion on Legalism.

An additional module, namely, Classical Chinese Texts in English (SICH7004), enables students to engage in a detailed study of the reception of Confucianism in the West and particularly in the English-speaking world, and to develop translation, annotation and commentary skills on Classical Chinese texts in English.

Building on the taught part of the Programme, the Dissertation (SICH7015) element allows students to complete a detailed critical commentary of a Classical Chinese text; or to complete a shorter textual commentary Project (SICH7016) and to deliver and reflect upon a 'teaching placement' activity derived from this textual work.

Key Features

The MA in Confucian Classical Studies will have a special appeal to those students who wish to study ancient Chinese texts, to develop a rich and deep knowledge of traditional Chinese Classical texts; and to apply this knowledge to their own lives and those of others.

Students will have the opportunity to learn from the best in the subject and to study using the unique pedagogic approach derived from the 'Royal Great Learning? (????) educational model, which relies upon intensive textual study and reflection.

Students will study at the Academy of Sinology at UWTSD, a newly established Academy in Lampeter which focuses upon training for Sage teachers, who through example will have a real impact on society via their own daily moral practices and teaching activities.

Studying at UWTSD Lampeter:

  • The University's Royal Charter is the oldest in England and Wales after the universities of Oxford and Cambridge
  • His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales became our royal patron in 2011
  • The university's campus, situated in the rural town of Lampeter, has a friendly environment created by staff and students
  • The region of South West Wales, where our campus is based, is a much lower cost of living than some of the larger UK cities and London.

Programme Specification

The programme has the following specific aims:

  • To provide advanced training in both traditional Chinese language and Confucian Classical Chinese textual studies;
  • To provide students with a systematic and critically informed understanding of a wide range of ancient Confucian texts;
  • To develop a deep awareness and critical appreciation of the cultural and historical nature and importance of a wide range of Confucian texts;
  • To enhance students' high-level transferable skills in communication in general and in textual interpretation in particular;
  • To prepare students for the next stage in their careers, whether that is further academic or professional study, or entering employment of different kinds.

Programme Learning Outcomes

i) Knowledge and Understanding (KU)

Upon successful completion of the Programme of study, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • A sophisticated knowledge and critical understanding of a wide range of Confucian texts and moral traditions.
  • The ability to evaluate critically a wide range of Confucian texts and the spiritual, philosophical and ideological traditions that they embody.
  • Advanced and sustained reading and translation skills, informed by a range of approaches to textual interpretation, translation and analysis, in and of Classical Chinese.
  • Advanced and sustained skills for the translation of Classical Chinese texts into English.
  • ii) Intellectual (thinking) skills (IS)

    Upon successful completion of the Programme of study, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Engage reflectively with a wide range of textual material and questions of how this has been used to capture and inform (spiritual) practice.
  • Evaluate in an advanced and sustained manner a range of different textual sources and their relationship(s) to broader philosophical questions.
  • Synthesise complex information and ideas from a variety of theoretical, critical and historical sources, including popular and Western interpretations of traditional Chinese texts.
  • iii) Transferable skills

    Upon successful completion of the Programme of study, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Critically engage with, and make effective use of, a range of relevant primary and secondary sources.
  • Communicate through English and Chinese in writing, complex information in an effective way.
  • Communicate through English and Chinese orally complex information in an effective way.
  • Successfully plan and undertake (given suitable supervision) a sizeable research project.
  • Think independently, and to challenge received ideas.
  • Use information-technology skills, including the use of electronic resources, in a sophisticated and reflective way.
  • Modules

    • SICH7001 Research Methodologies for the Study of Sinology
    • SICH7002 Interpretation of The Four Books
    • SICH7003 Readings from the Governing Principles of Ancient China
    • SICH7010 Readings from The Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles
    • SICH7013 Confucian Classical Studies
    • SICH7004 Classical Chinese Texts in English
    • SICH7015 Dissertation
    • SICH7016 Project


    An MA degree in Confucian Classical Studies involves a wide range of assessment methods. Assessment will be both English medium and in the medium of Ancient Chinese, dependent on the particular module being studied.

    Assessment methods include essays, translation into modern Chinese or English, translation with annotation or critical commentary, oral presentation, teaching placement portfolio and, of course, the dissertation.

    This variety of assessment helps develop skills in presenting material in clear, professional and a lucid manner, whether orally or in writing.

    Career Opportunities

    Possible employment roles for graduates from this programme include:

    • teachers and educators in a range of settings in both China and the UK;
    • academic researchers in traditional texts and ancient Chinese texts;
    • translation work
    • educational administration and policy
    • ethical business and commercial ventures
    • community work and initiatives
    • voluntary and travel industries
    • heritage conservation; archive and museum work
    • corporate and personal coaches/trainers in ancient Chinese 'wisdom' and life skills.

    The expected employability skills gained by graduates from these programmes are: advanced information handling and communication skills; high levels of self and project management; the practical application of high level skills in textual analysis and interpretation.

    Further Information

    The Programme endeavours to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to student learning so that the emphasis is not on the subject's content alone but on the whole learning and teaching experience. The programmes will combine textual-focused teaching with modern pedagogy and self-reflection.

    All programmes are residential, running across the two semesters (or three terms) of the academic year. Students may opt to enrol as a fulltime or part-time student. Open to all students on these programmes, will be a series of workshops that will operate alongside the programme structure.

    These optional workshops will offer students useful cultural and contextual understanding of Lampeter's multi-faith, multi-cultural heritage, and form part of a wider introduction to British cultural and social values and traditions.

    For further information please click here.

    Related Courses

    • MA Sinology
    • MA Chinese Buddhist Textual Studies
    • MA Chinese Daoist Textual Studies
    MA Award
    Full-time Study Mode
    18 months Duration

    Entry Requirements For This Course

    Entry Criteria

    Each application will be considered on its own merit and will be based upon an interview with relevant teaching staff within the University and the Academy of Sinology.

    The bilingual nature of the programme requires a degree of competency in both Chinese and English.

    For further information please click here.

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