BA (Hons)

Mandarin Chinese and International Relations

international relations students
In the UK for Modern languages and linguistics
in The Guardian University Guide 2020
  • UCAS code(s): L2T1
  • Level(s) of study: Undergraduate
  • Study mode(s): Sandwich
  • Location: Clifton Campus
  • Starting: September 2019
  • Course duration: 4 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information


If you’re passionate about world events and have a particular interest in learning more about the Chinese language, culture and society, this is the perfect course for you!

Whether you’re coming to us as a complete beginner, or you’ve already studied Mandarin Chinese to A-level, this exciting course will give you a high level of fluency and accuracy in spoken and written Chinese.

You’ll also study and understand the changing world in which we live. You’ll explore relations between states, peoples, social movements and cultural and religious communities. You’re understanding of global relations will complement the study of Chinese culture and society.

In Year Three, you can spend time working or studying in China. Our partner universities are in Beijing, Shanghai and Yunnan.

  • Study Mandarin Chinese from beginners, GCSE or Post A-Level.
  • 98% of our International Relations joint honours undergraduates are in work or further study within just six months of finishing their degree (DLHE 2016 /17).
  • NTU’s Mandarin Chinese courses are Number One in the UK for student satisfaction (NSS 2019).
  • 100% student satisfaction rate for Mandarin Chinese courses (NSS 2019).
  • NTU's Modern Languages and Linguistics courses are ranked Top 20 in the UK in the Guardian League Tables 2020.
  • Take part in a language-themed work placement.
  • Gain practical skills in translation and interpreting.
  • Take a year abroad in China.
  • Study this course full-time with a year abroad (sandwich) or part-time. See How to Apply section.


100% of our undergraduate students are satisfied with the quality of this course (National Student Survey 2019).

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What you'll study

There is a lot of flexibility in the structure of a Joint Honours degree, allowing you to tailor a package to your developing academic interests.

During your first year, you’ll study four core modules which provide a clear and exciting framework for your development at later stages.

During your second year, you’ll study two core modules and you’ll select a number of optional modules based on your individual interests. Or, you can spend the second half of the year on international exchange at one of our partner universities.

In your final year you will undertake an in-depth piece of work and study the core language module, you’ll also select a number of optional modules.

  • Year One

    Core modules

    Foundations and Challenges to Politics and International Relations

    This module introduces you to key political concepts and ideologies, which have underpinned the development of political and international relations theory. In addition, traditional approaches are contrasted with critical theoretical approaches to the study of international relations and to experiences of resistance and challenge to established orthodoxies and interests in global relations.

    International Relations and Global History

    This module introduces students to the argument that contemporary world politics can be understood in historical context, and that the appropriate idea of history for this purpose will draw on literatures, which discuss long-term trends and transformations. The literature draws on Braudel and work influenced by Braudel, as well as Little and Buzan's attempt to write 5,000 years of global history, drawing attention to mechanisms of change and continuity.

    Chinese Language One (Accelerated Beginners)

    This module provides an accelerated course in Mandarin Chinese for students with no prior knowledge of the language. It will equip you with the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of real life situations and to build language learning skills and other transferable competencies.

    Mandarin Grammar (Post A-level)

    The module focuses on developing both your understanding of key issues in contemporary Chinese culture and society, and your key communicative skills in Mandarin Chinese: listening, speaking, reading, writing. The module is therefore designed to reinforce your language learning and communication skills by encouraging you to engage with material in a range of media (written, electronic, audio-visual), consolidating your grammatical knowledge, and enabling you to participate actively in whole class, small group and paired discussions in Mandarin Chinese.

    Introduction to Chinese Studies

    This module provides an introduction to Chinese studies. It aims at developing an understanding of culture as practised in both traditional and contemporary Chinese society. It introduces the background knowledge of modern China, including aspects such as history, geography, ethnicity, language and dialect, education, as well as socio-cultural aspects of other Chinese-speaking communities.

  • Year Two

    Core modules

    Researching Politics and International Relations

    This module will enable you to explore contrasting approaches to the study of Politics and International Relations, to develop your skills in formulating a viable research project as preparation for the final-year dissertation and to enable you to manipulate, present and interpret quantitative and qualitative data.

    Chinese Language Two (Accelerated Beginners)

    This module aims to develop your fluency and accuracy in the spoken and written language. Grammar will be consolidated and expanded, and essay-writing skills developed. You'll be introduced to a wider range of registers and varieties of the language, and will analyse written and audio-visual texts in more depth.

    Mandarin Language Two (Post A-level)

    This module aims to develop your fluency and accuracy in the spoken and written language. It further develops the four language learning skills, grammar, and other transferable skills, through such tasks as video analysis, summaries and translations, and oral debates and presentations

    Chinese Language Three (Accelerated Beginners)

    Further develop your speaking, writing listening and reading skills in Mandarin. You'll be able to apply research and critical skills to written and aural documents to improve your academic and professional skills.

    International Relations optional modules

    Understanding the Cold War

    This module will enable you to gain an understanding of the origins of the Cold War, its key events and features, such as the Korean War; the building of the Berlin Wall; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Vietnam War; and the factors behind the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War.

    Global Political Economy (GPE)

    This module seeks to explore the development of GPE as an area of study in International Relations and apply its theories and methods to analyse contemporary aspects of the contemporary global system. In order to do this, we look at the historical development of GPE as a critical response to the orthodoxy of traditional IR.

    Change and World Order: International Institutions and Non-State Actors

    This module examines the nature of international order and considers how international institutions have contributed to its maintenance. It is based on the assumption that non-state actors are important actors in international relations. The institutions studied include the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies such as the ILO, WHO and UNESCO, regional organisations such as the European Union and ASEAN, and alliances (eg. NATO).

    Mandarin Chinese optional modules

    Media, representation and China

    The module examines representations of China and Chinese cultural identities in different media forms. It introduces you to these representations as powerful mechanisms that both reflect and construct contemporary Chinese society within the context of social, cultural and political transformations.

    Chinese Culture and Society

    This module is designed to give you a contextualised introduction to the key issues and events that have shaped Chinese culture and society since the early 20th Century.

    Languages at Work

    Languages at Work is a language-themed work placement module, involving a series of preparatory lectures / seminars, a placement with a local employer of at least 30 hours, and the production of a piece of writing reflecting on the experience.

  • Year Three

    In Year Three, you can spend time working or studying in China. Our partner universities are in Beijing, Shanghai, and Yunnan.

  • Final Year

    Core modules

    International Relations Dissertation

    The final year dissertation module enables you to undertake a sustained, single piece of independently researched work on a topic of your choice, under expert supervision.


    Mandarin Chinese Capstone Project

    A specialist research project, which develops in-depth skills in planning, self-reliance and organisation.


    Real-Life Work Project

    If you unable to take the year abroad you will produce a Real-Life Work Project during your final year. This extended piece of research and writing equates to the capstone module (see above), but involves working closely with an organisation.

    Mandarin Language Three

    This module builds on the previous years of language learning by aiming to maximise your fluency and accuracy in written and oral / aural Mandarin Chinese. Throughout the module, you will combine analysis of important contemporary issues in Chinese society with further development of your communicative skills to enable you to reach a high level of language proficiency.

    International Relations optional modules

    The following modules are currently taught at the Clifton Campus.

    Emerging Powers of Asia 

    This module explores and analyses international relations within Asia, both in terms of individual member states and regional players, for instance ASEAN.  It will also explore the role that external actors have had in facilitating, hindering and modifying the development of specific forms of international relation.

    Russian Politics and Society

    This module follows on to an extent from Understanding the Cold War but focuses on Russia since the collapse of communism. It will enable you to analyse and evaluate the collapse of the USSR and the problems of Russia’s democratisation, especially the power of the presidency, the weakness of parliament and civil society, the manipulation of elections, and the war in Chechnya. We will also examine Russia’s economic transformation, the emergence of the so-called ‘oligarchs’, and the impact of these profound changes on the structure and health of Russian society.

    Currently, you can also choose from the following options which are offered at the City Campus. Please note that optional modules can change due to several factors and we retain the right to withdraw modules at any point.

    Power and Politics in the European Union

    This module aims to identify and critically examine the institutional character of the European Union and to identify and explore the political dynamics of the EU's policy processes. It will explore the principal configurations of national and supranational power in the EU polity and examine critically the debates about democracy, identity and citizenship in the EU.

    Hyperpower Politics: The USA

    This module examines the politics and governmental context of the USA – a complex and changing western liberal democracy. It will illuminate and explore the cultural and institutional relationships, which influence the speed and direction of political change.

    The Politics of Everyday Life

    This module aims to develop a knowledge of the concept of politics in everyday life through an examination of competing analytical approaches to the study of politics in everyday life and a critical evaluation of these approaches. You’ll explore examples of politics in everyday life such as nature, consumption and work.

    The International Relations of Middle East and North Africa

    This module explores the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) against the backdrop of the colonial and post-independence history of the region. You’ll analyse the bases of political and religious identities and the nature of nationalisms in the MENA region in order to develop an understanding of their implications for both state and non-state actors in the region and beyond.

    Political Violence and Terror

    This module is an opportunity for you to expand your knowledge and understanding of terrorism and political violence in a global context. It analyses the concept of ‘insecurity’ in a broad sense through exploring both the theoretical approaches to the study of violence, as well as a range of real-world cases to illustrate the increasingly complex use of violence for political objectives.

    Mandarin Chinese optional modules

    Contemporary China

    This module builds upon your knowledge of Chinese Culture and Society. You'll examine the impact of 20th Century revolutionary movements on the modern Chinese state, and assesses the impact of the post-Cultural Revolution period and the economic boom on Chinese politics.

    Chinese Translation and Interpreting

    In this module, you will develop knowledge and understanding of translation processes, and enjoy opportunities to engage in guided practice. You will also develop your interpreting skills by undertaking consecutive interpreting activities.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

How you’re taught

How will I learn?

Each year you’ll choose a range of core and optional modules from the lists above. The first year is normally divided equally between the two joint honours subjects but at the end of Year One, you’ll have the opportunity to select between an equally weighted joint honours course and a more specialised pathway, depending on your interests.

Teaching principally takes place through a combination of lectures, where tutors introduce the key ideas, and seminars, where smaller groups discuss those ideas.

Contact hours

If you’re struggling with a topic or require additional support or guidance, you can arrange to see your tutors in small groups or one-to-one, to discuss essay plans or to seek some specific academic guidance.

It is the nature of the subjects offered in the School of Arts and Humanities, however, that much of your time will be spent engaged in independent study. We recognise that this marks a change of culture from school or college, and we have in place a system of study support to help you adapt to this.

International exchange

You’ll also have the option to take part in an international exchange at a partner university. These options will enable you to gain impressive international experience, and broaden your perspective and career ambitions.

You’ll experience other cultures, travel the globe and open your eyes to a world of opportunities. Our exchange partnership with a number of international universities enables you to live and study in another country in your second year. Find out more.

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn another new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have.

Learning a new language can enhance your communication skills, enrich your experience when travelling abroad and boost your career prospects. Find out more about the University Language Programme.

Assessment methods

  • Year 1 coursework (67%) and written (33%)
  • Year 2 coursework (100%)
  • Final Year coursework (53%), written (24%) and practical (23%)

Contact hours

A full-time student on average can expect to spend 1200 hours a year learning which will typically be broken down as follows:

  • Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (31%), independent study (69%)
  • Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (28%), independent study (72%)
  • Year 3 placements (100%)
  • Year 4 lectures/seminars/workshops (24%), independent study (76%)

Careers and employability

Your career development

This is a major part of the curriculum. Key transferable skills are emphasised and there are opportunities to develop links with organisations and potential employers. Joint honours courses develop a wide range of skills. These include written and oral communication skills, critical analysis and a variety of IT skills. But you’ll also become more self-motivated, be able to work independently and in teams, and develop excellent time management skills.

Entry requirements

  • 104 UCAS tariff points from up to four qualifications (two of which must be A-level equivalent); or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma - DMM.
  • GCSEs - English and Maths grade C / 4.

If you are unsure whether the qualifications you have, or are currently studying for, meet the minimum entry requirements for this course, please contact us before submitting an application through UCAS.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions Team or call on:+44 (0)115 848 4200.

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our courses. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

Foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our foundation courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please contact our international team for advice.

University preparation courses
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may be interested in our pre-Masters / Foundation course at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC) which leads onto this postgraduate / undergraduate degree if successfully completed. NTIC students are based on the City Campus and have access to all the University facilities.

Find out more about university preparation courses at NTIC.

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can.

For the Sandwich route (Full-time with year abroad) just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow our step-by-step guide.

If you're applying for the part-time route please apply online using the NTU Applicant Portal.

Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. So include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application. It’s your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place! You've got 4,000 characters to impress us. Make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you’re applying for. For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up-to-date

After you've applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page. Good luck with your application!

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

You can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year. If you are applying to more than one UK university you must apply through UCAS.

Apply as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here you need to plan this into your application.

Keeping up-to-date

After you've applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Good luck with your application!

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service on:+44 (0)115 848 2494.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

International fees and scholarships

For international and EU fees for all courses together with advice on how to pay, please visit our international fees information.

We offer prestigious scholarships to our international students holding offers to study here. For details and an application form please visit our international scholarships information.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418