In the 2017/2018 academic year, St. Petersburg University will launch a new educational master's programme "Contemporary China: Economy, Politics, Society". This is one of the first Russian programmes for training orientalists with a very good Chinese language proficiency: in the learning process, not only will they develop extensive knowledge of China's present-day life, but also be able to get to know this country "from within".

With the ongoing constant and stable expansion of cooperation between Russia and the PRC, Russian experts are attracted by more and more aspects of the life of the Chinese society, an outlook for political reforms, financial markets dynamics, expansion of transnational Chinese businesses, the increasing number of virtual services and development of educational "hubs" being among them. Our new master's programme is aimed at filling the gaps in the traditional sinological training and is focused on studying various aspects of life in modern China.

The programme "Contemporary China: Economy, Politics, Society" may be called the only one of its kind. Despite the fact that there are similar fields of study in America and Europe, they are unable to train specialists to work in the realities of the Russian–Chinese relations. "First, the focus of the programme is aimed at studying China, and not the Far East or the East Asian region in general, as it is in other universities. Secondly, the applicants must demonstrate a relatively high Chinese proficiency — HSK 4, that enabling them to refer to primary sources in the original language and to study at a partner university abroad," said Polina Rysakova, academic supervisor of the master's programme.

Due to the high entrance requirements to the applicants' language proficiency, during their studies the students will be able to work with scientific materials, journalistic publications and official documents in Chinese, analyze the texts of primary sources, and, while still students, will begin to engage in expert activities. "Practical, project-oriented work is of great importance for the "Contemporary China" programme; that will allow young sinologists to acquire expert examination skills. In this regard, the curriculum consists mainly of lectures and workshops, has a modular structure and there is a large number of electives," said Professor Nikolai Samoilov, Director of the SPbU Centre for Chinese Studies.

The main international partner of the programme is Renmin University of China. It is a most perspective partner for St Petersburg University in terms of implementation of joint academic and scientific projects (see link). The future master's students will be able to undergo training in China during one semester. In the future, it is planned to sign a double diploma agreement between St Petersburg University and Renmin University of China. Such European partners of St Petersburg University as Free University of Berlin, the University of Heidelberg and the University of Helsinki may also join the programme later on. These universities also have a rich experience in the field of Chinese studies and are definitely of interest in terms of organising joint courses, internships and exchange programmes.

The programme "Contemporary China: Economy, Politics, Society" will justify its name not only in due to its content but also in methodological terms. "The programme is focused on a comprehensive study of trends and dynamics of the Chinese society development in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s," noted Polina Rysakova. "In order to keep abreast of the events in China, we are planning to regularly update our teaching aids."

The demand for this new programme is determined by an urgent need for employees who are fluent in Chinese and professionally understand the socio-economic, political and cultural aspects of the present-day Chinese society. The programme managers are planning to establish an educational programme council, representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public organisations and businesses being its members. "Such a council for the educational programme will allow us to understand the needs of potential employers and their requirements to sinology graduates, as well as provide an expert evaluation of the quality of training," Nikolai Samoilov said. He also emphasised that the idea to develop such a programme was prompted by Andrei Denisov, Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in China, during their business meeting in Beijing: the Russian Foreign Ministry and other state and commercial structures are very interested in SPbU graduates because of their high linguistic competence and multidisciplinary knowledge.

Students are enrolled on the new master's programme both on the state-financed (5 places) and contractual bases. For more information please visit our Catalogue of SPbU Educational Master's Programmes.

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