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Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research). Students from other programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


This course explores milestones and recurrent themes in the study of Chinese scripts and examines their import
for the field of linguistics. We will trace developments in the Chinese character script, review its influence on other writing systems, and study the impact of printing and digital revolutions. We will also investigate alternative written modes in the sinophone world, including Chinese calligraphy, ludic writing, alphabetical orthographies and linguistic systems of transcription.

Course objectives

Close reading and discussion of pertinent texts will be combined with assignments on their contents. Students will increase systemic knowledge about Chinese scripts and transcriptions; learn to assess their linguistic import; expand relevant technical vocabulary in Chinese and in English; analyze complex scholarly arguments; compare different positions and traditions with original observations; present oral and written reports; and actively participate in group discussions in English.


The timetable is available on the timetable of the MA Asian Studies (research).

Mode of instruction

Lectures on specific topics, discussion about the readings.

Course Load

Total 280 hours (10 EC x 28 hours)

  • Contact hours: 24

  • Preparation for class: 120 hours

  • Oral presentation: 12 hours

  • Written assignments: 24 hours

  • Term paper: 100 hours

Assessment method

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). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
In-class participation & contributions 15%
Oral presentation 15%
Three written assignments 30%
Term paper 40%

Term paper

  • Term paper grade must be minimally 5 to pass the course.

  • For Research MA students, Extra Requirement extensions of the regular MA course will take the form of a double target (a) academic publication management and (b) reflection on methodology. For an example, check the Extra Requirement for the Research Master in Linguistics.

  • Research MA students wishing to complete the course with an Extra Requirement need to notify the lecturer in writing before the fifth session of the course. The lecturer will then supply written specifications and a deadline.


  • Students who fail the course may resit the term paper (40%)

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

The texts are selected from Chinese and general grammatology, linguistics, lexicography, etymology and language education.


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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.


Dr. J.M. Wiedenhof