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Exchange student in China

© Restricted/Sam Brosnahan 2015. Sam has a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business and is studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and Political Science. Two years into his degree Sam was able to spend a semester on exchange at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. He is also president of the UC student-run Global China Connection.


‌China is one of the world’s oldest civilisations and in the twenty-first century, is the most heavily populated nation in the world, with over 1.3 billion people. Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world. For the last few years China has been New Zealand's fastest growing market for international visitors.

By developing competency in the Chinese language, students will gain insight and access to Chinese culture. Understanding the society and culture of this historic yet modern nation is becoming increasingly important as China overtakes more traditional western nations in terms of economic power, cultural relevance and international influence.

Why study Chinese at UC?

The Chinese programme at UC provides a wide range of courses in both the language and the studies of Chinese literature, thought, tradition, culture and society. It is backed by a team of staff specialising in language, literature, philosophy, film and culture.

The Chinese language courses at UC aim to develop language competence in modern standard Chinese in both its spoken and written forms.

The Confucius Institute at UC is part of the global CI network jointly established by Hanban (Beijing), University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan). It was the first such institute in the South Island.

No previous knowledge of the Chinese language is required to study this subject at UC.

CHIN151 Chinese Language 1-A and CHIN152 Chinese Language 1-B are not available to those who are literate in Chinese or who are fluent speakers of Mandarin.

Students who have some ability in the language should contact the Subject Coordinator for advice on the most appropriate course of study. Direct entry into language classes other than CHIN151 is through a placement test and/or discussion with the Subject Coordinator.


See all Chinese courses

100-level courses

  • CHIN151 Chinese Language 1-A is a first semester course and the entry point for absolute beginners or students with very little previous knowledge of the Chinese language.
  • CHIN152 Chinese Language 1-B runs in the second semester and is for students who have already studied the equivalent of CHIN151. Direct entry is through a placement test.
  • CHIN155 Understanding China is taught in English and provides a basic understanding of China and Chinese culture. This course is required for a major in Chinese.

200-level and beyond

In the second and third years, Chinese language courses provide additional grounding in the vocabulary and grammar of Chinese and further develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in Chinese.

Teaching covers topics on Chinese culture, cinema, history and social life, so that at the same time as your vocabulary increases, you also gain an understanding of Chinese culture and people.

The Chinese programme offers students the opportunity to study in China in their second and third year. Students in this summer course will take Chinese language and cultural lessons at a Chinese university.

Note: CHIN152 or equivalent is a requirement for CHIN201 Chinese Language 2.

Career opportunities

Learning about influential languages and cultures is advantageous for many careers around the world as graduates are increasingly required to be culturally competent, globally aware and ready to work internationally.

Career opportunities for graduates in Chinese include teaching Chinese in New Zealand schools, working in international trade, in tourism and related industries, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other government departments.

Recent UC graduates have become interpreters/translators, TESOL teachers, import/export brokers, secondary school teachers, policy analysts, tourism marketing officers and travel agents. Others have gone on to professions such as law, accounting, engineering and business in New Zealand, China and other Asian countries.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Chinese

More information

School of Language, Social and Political Sciences

Phone +64 3 369 3377

Level 4, Logie Building - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Brennan Galpin

Brennan Galpin

'I learn more and more and with each week I have new tools with which to communicate...'

Aidan Jackson

Aidan Jackson

'I have always enjoyed learning about the world...'