The Oxford courses in Japanese and Chinese are both four years. No previous knowledge of Japanese or Chinese is expected, although some students have studied the languages at school or elsewhere. Practical language teaching is mainly done in small classes in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, tailored to the level and needs of each student. Both courses involve a compulsory study period of one year in Japan or China, taking place during the second year of the course. The courses are comprehensive and demanding, combining intensive work on the written and spoken language through all four years with both general and highly specialized study of Japanese and Chinese culture, civilization and society. The language teaching takes place in classes and small groups and in language laboratories, and includes work conducted by experienced native speakers. The content side of the course is taught in lectures and tutorials, both within and outside of College.
The first year of the courses is dedicated to intensive work on the languages and study of the history and culture of Japan, China, and East Asia in general. In the Chinese course, the classical language is taught from the outset alongside the modern language, whereas in the Japanese course, the classical language will be introduced in the first year but not studied in detail until the third year of the course. At the end of the first year you will take Prelims which examines the language and history and culture work you have done during the first year. The second year is spent abroad, in Japan at Kobe University and in China at Beijing University, for continued extensive language study, combined with teaching in Japanese or Chinese on the history and culture. In the third and fourth years the regular language work continues, including the classical varieties of the languages, but you will also do more specialized work within subject areas chosen by yourself from a wide array of available options, ranging from classical poetry to contemporary society. In the fourth year you also write a maximum 15,000 word dissertation on a subject of your own choice under supervision. At the end of the fourth year you will be examined in all the work you have done over the four years. It is possible, and increasingly popular, to study an additional language (from Korean, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese) in the third and fourth year of the course.