The Department of Chinese Studies has its origins in the Department of Chinese Studies, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences of the former University of Singapore; and the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts of the former Nanyang University. The former was established in 1953, the latter in 1955. The merging of the two departments took place with the establishment of the National University of Singapore in 1980.
The Department conducts programmes of study at both undergraduate and graduate levels. For the B.A. and B.A. Honours programmes, the Department offers more than 50 courses every year in 5 major areas of study, namely, Chinese linguistics, Chinese literature, Chinese history, Chinese philosophy and translation. For graduate studies, the Department currently offers one Ph.D. programme and three MA programmes.
Any student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who fulfills the language requirements may read either one or both of the Department’s majors: Chinese Studies and Chinese Language. Any student who chooses a single major in the Department (either Chinese Studies or Chinese Language) is eligible for reading an Honours degree in Chinese Studies. In terms of staff and student numbers, it is currently one of the largest departments in the Faculty with with a healthy population of undergraduate students, and over 100 graduate students in both PhD and MA programmes.
In this era when globalisation and regionalism have become two of the major forces affecting peoples’ lives, the Department of Chinese Studies, in conjunction with World Scientific Publishing, has launched a new Chinese book series, namely Studies on Southeast Asian Chinese. To date 8 volumes have appeared. In conjunction with the Commercial Press (Hong Kong), the Department published 3 volumes in the book series, Excursions in Sinology.
From time to time, eminent scholars from overseas have been invited to teach in the Department on a short-term basis, and distinguished visitors passing through Singapore are invited to give public lectures or seminars, or to participate in discussions or forums organized by the Department for students and staff of the University as well as members of the general public. Since 1980, hundreds of internationally renowned scholars and famous writers have either taught in the Department, given public lectures or seminars or participated in discussions or forums organized by the Department.
Extra-curricular activities such as overseas summer camping, overseas cultural tours, classes in Chinese calligraphy, seal carving, painting and lion dancing are also regular features of the Department. These activities aim to expose students to cultural aspects of Chinese Studies outside the confines of traditional scholarship.
The Department provides students with an education which emphasizes flexibility, creativity and life-long learning. As a result, they can easily adapt to a wide range of professions. Majoring in either Chinese Studies or Chinese Language, or both, graduates of the Department will be equipped with a high degree of proficiency in both Chinese and English, expertise in the cultural history of both modern and traditional China and excellent interpersonal communication skills. They are highly sought after by the public and private sectors; especially in education, mass media, commerce and other cultural institutions.