Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module CHNS2031: Classical Chinese I

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Chinese)

CHNS2031: Classical Chinese I

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Chinese Language 1B (CHNS1012) or equivalent knowledge of modern Chinese.


  • Chinese Language 2B (CHNS 2012) or Chinese Language 2A (CHNS2041)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to understand the basic grammar of Classical Chinese.
  • To enable students to familiarise themselves with the basic vocabulary of Classical Chinese
  • To enable students to read and understand basic texts in Classical Chinese
  • To enable students to familiarise themselves with the linguistic and conceptual conventions of Classical Chinese
  • To enable students to familiarise themselves with some of the key philosophical and literary texts in the Chinese canon from the Warring States and Han periods in their original language.


  • Students will read 50 short excerpts from Warring States and Han period texts, presented as a course with an introduction to the g rammar of classical Chinese and to the use of particles.
  • In the Epiphany term students will additionally read a longer passage or passages of text from the same period allowing the study of both textual conventions, including exegetical notes, in more detail and some of the literary and philosophical concepts underlying the texts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have gained a basic knowledge of the main grammatical conventions and basic vocabulary of Classcial Chinese, as well as some of the philosophical and literary concepts underlying the texts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have developed the ability to analyse the grammar of basic classical Chinese sentences.
  • They will have gained the ability to use reference tools to tackle unseen classical Chinese texts.
  • They will have an understanding of the philosophical and literary world of Classical Chinese enabling them to appreciate the conventions used in the texts.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to engage with original texts of a high degree of linguistic, semantic and conceptual complexity.
  • The ability to use a range of reference tools to elucidate the meaning of a text.
  • An understanding of theconcept of translatability as applied to texts far removed from ones L1 experience.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Two weekly lectures / language classes will deliver key information on the subject and offer students practice in reading and translating classical texts.
  • The Epiphany term will offer the opportunity to tackle extended passages with more limited textual assistance.
  • The assessment format is oriented towards enabling students to demonstrate the skills they have acquired in understanding seen and unseen classical Chinese texts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 40 2 x Weekly 1 hour 40
Preparation and Reading 160
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 3 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Oral feedback on in-class translation activities.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University