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Chinese Daoist Textual Studies (MA)

The programme focuses on the study and research of the ancient religions, languages and great texts of China.

Students will study the ‘ancient wisdom’ of China, which is of great cultural significance and is increasingly seen as relevant to contemporary concerns, such as personal and societal well-being and sustainability.


Visit our Applications and Admissions section to find out more.

Admissions Academy of Sinology
Contact Email: sinology@uwtsd.ac.uk

Tuition Fees 2023/24:
Home: £7,800
Overseas (on-campus): £15,000
Fees are for the whole course

Why choose this course?

The MA in Chinese Daoist Textual 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’ (皇家太学) 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.

What you will learn

Course Overview

This programme will focus on advanced-level engagement with both traditional Chinese language and Chinese Daoist texts and the spiritual, cultural and political values and practices that they embody.

Research Methodology for the Study of Sinology (SICH7023) will focus on enhancing the study of Sinology and the understanding of Classical Chinese language and methodologies such as textual criticism, commentary, and textual analysis.

Daoist Text Studies 1: “Daodejing” (SICH7026) will enable students to engage in a detailed study of the key Daoist text the Daodejing and related commentaries, realising the influence of Daodejing in both ancient and modern Chinese thought and social and cultural practices, particularly the importance of Daoism.

Daoist Text Studies 2: “Zhuangzi (SICH7027) will focus on in-depth study of the Inner Chapters of Zhuangzi and related commentaries, as well as the ideological relationship between Daodejing and Zhuangzi.

Interpretation of the Four Books (SICH7028) will exhibit knowledge and understanding of key texts from the Four Books from different historical, cultural, and philosophical/ethical perspectives.

Readings from the Governing Principles of Ancient China (SICH7029) will reflect critically on the moral, social and political philosophies expounded in selected texts from the Governing Principles of Ancient China.

An additional module, namely, Classical Chinese Texts in English (SICH7004), develops a high-level understanding of the history of, and theoretical and methodological approaches to, the translation of Classical Chinese texts into English.

Building on the taught part of the programme, the Dissertation (SICH7022) element allows the student to produce a substantial and high-level piece of scholarly work in the Chinese Daoist textual study.

Module Topics

PGCert, PGDip & MA

  • Classical Chinese Texts in English (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Daoist Text Studies 1: “Daodejing”《道 德經》(20 credits; compulsory)
  • Daoist Text Studies 2: “Zhuangzi” 《莊 子》(20 credits; compulsory)
  • Interpretation of The Four Books (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Readings from the Governing Principles of Ancient China (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Research Methodology for the Study of Sinology (20 credits; compulsory). 


  • Dissertation (60 credits; compulsory). 

An MA degree in Chinese Daoist Textual 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 a clear, professional and lucid manner, whether orally or in writing.

Key Information

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.

Visit our Applications and Admissions section to find out more.

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.

Programme Specification

The programme has the following specific aims:

  • To provide advanced training in both traditional Chinese language and Daoist Classical studies;
  • Provide students with a systematic and critically informed understanding of a wide range of ancient Daoist texts;
  • Develop a deep awareness and critical appreciation of the cultural and historical nature and importance of a wide range of Daoist texts;
  • Enhance students’ high-level transferable skills in communication in general and in textual interpretation in particular;
  • 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:

  1. Sophisticated knowledge and critical understanding of a wide range of Daoist texts and moral traditions.
  2. The ability to evaluate critically a wide range of Daoist texts and the spiritual, philosophical and ideological traditions that they embody.
  3. Advanced and sustained reading and translation skills, informed by a range of approaches to textual interpretation, translation and analysis, in and of Classical Chinese.
  4. Advanced and sustained skills in 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:

  1. Engage reflectively with a wide range of textual materials and questions of how this has been used to capture and inform (spiritual) practice. 
  2. Evaluate in an advanced and sustained manner a range of different textual sources and their relationship(s) to broader philosophical questions.
  3. 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:

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

Visit our Applications and Admissions section to find out more.