nl en

Chinese Linguistics: The State of the Art (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


This course will bring students up to date with respect to most relevant aspects of Chinese linguistics. Taking a broad view, we will investigate recent developments in the such fields as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, grammar, dialectology, etc. In doing so, we will at the same time, work towards (re)introducing most of the important basic notions in linguistics.

Course objectives

The course aims at providing the students with a broad understanding of current issues in Chinese linguistics. Besides, the course aims at developing further their research skills, as well as their skills in reporting on their findings, both in writing and orally, for general as well as scholarly audiences.


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction

Lectures on specific topics, discussion about the readings.
Attendance is not obligatory for lectures, but during this lecture ample participation in the discussions is expected from the students. The conveners do not need to be informed in case of missed classes. Information and knowledge provided in the lectures greatly contribute to the subsequent courses of the programme and their contents will be part of the examination. In order to pass the course, students are strongly advised to attend all sessions.

Course Load

  • Contact hours Research MA: 6 hours

  • time spent on attending lectures and seminars: 26 hours

  • time for readings/class preparation: 98 hours

  • time for assignments: 60 hours

  • time for the term paper: 90 hours

Assessment method


  • several oral and written assignments

  • term paper


  • several oral and written assignments (40%)

  • term paper (60%)


Compensation possible, but the term paper must minimally be awarded with a 5.
Those who fail the course can resit the term paper.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.


Blackboard will be used as the need arises. Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading list

  • Pinker, Steven, The language instinct. How the mind creates language. [orig. publ. 1994; any subsequent printing by any press is okay]

We will occasionally refer to the following two works:

  • Norman, J., Chinese. Cambridge University Press. [orig. publ. 1988; any subsequent printing is okay]

  • Chen, P., Modern Chinese. History and Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. [orig. publ. 1999; any subsequent printing is okay]

  • Occasional supplementary reading material will be announced at Blackboard.

For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration à la carte or contractonderwijs

A la carte nor contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Dhr Prof. dr. R.P.E. Sybesma


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).