We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

The Chequered History of British University Engagements with Chinese Language Studies: Intercultural Failure or Success

A research project of the School of Education, part of the International and Comparative Education research group.


As Chinese language courses expand in British higher education there is a need for a sustained investigation into the changing phases of the history of Chinese Language Studies in British universities. This research which investigates the journey of Chinese from the fringes of sinological studies to its current status as the most learned non-European language in British universities will contribute towards a deeper understanding of the factors influencing changes in Chinese Language Studies in university curricula. The emerging interaction between Britain and China within the higher education sector is the wider context for the changes taking place. While the British government has maintained an active interest in China and Chinese Language Studies, a new and major player supporting the expansion of Chinese in universities has been the Confucius Institutes the establishment of which reflects the Chinese Government commitment to ensuring a steady expansion of Mandarin learners. The research reviews the complex range of issues that arise within the developing relationship between China and Britain. It seeks to foreground ideas of change and development alongside interpreting Chinese Language Studies through an intercultural lens and probe whether the underpinning ideologies of Chinese Language Studies in university curricula are changing and ask where they stand today. This research is designed to enrich the training of teachers of Chinese and to add much needed historical depth to the courses that students of Chinese follow.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • The Chequered History Of British University Engagements With Chinese Language Studies: Intercultural Failure Or Success (£240668.80 from The British Academy)


From the School of Education