By Sophie Vinter, on 3 November 2016
The Yenching Academy is offering the chance to complete an interdisciplinary Master’s in China Studies at the heart of PKU in Beijing.
Applications are open to graduates of any discipline until 31 January 2017 and can be submitted directly through the Yenching Academy website.
Students can also apply to attend the Academy’s flagship event, the Yenching Global Symposium, taking place from 23-27 March 2017 . This year’s theme is “Xinnovation: Identity of Innovation in China” and applications close on 15 December 2016.
Professor John L Holden, Associate Dean of the Yenching Academy, and UCL History graduate James Ashcroft, who was among the first cohort of scholars, visited UCL to encourage students with an interest in China to apply.
They explained how the residential programme attracts outstanding graduates from all over the world, helping to shape a new generation of global citizens with a nuanced understanding of China.
“The best year of my life”
James, who is now working as a consultant at Deloitte, described how the experience offered the chance not only for intercultural and academic exchange, but also for personal and professional development.
He said: “I principally studied 16th and 17th century political thought at UCL, but also Chinese history. I’d never been to China or studied Chinese before, but the Academy flew us out one month before to do an intensive language course which was a very useful survival kit to have.
“I focussed less on the academic things and more on the experience I could get out of being in China – it was the best year of my life. Afterwards I moved to Taiwan and stayed with a host family. It’s a really stimulating environment to be in and by the end you have friends for life from all over the globe.”
Working closely with their academic mentors, Yenching Scholars create their own study paths by choosing from six academic concentrations – ranging from Economics and Management to Politics and International Relations – and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities.
Changing the world
Professor Holden said the programme attracts a variety of high-profile speakers including international ambassadors and renowned authors such as Yu Hua. Some scholars also undertake internships as part of their time in China.
He said: “There is no place like PKU in China; it is where all major Chinese social movements have been initiated. We’re able to recruit spectacular people who want to change the world and make a difference.
“This year we are rolling out a new course, ‘China in Transition’, which is an interdisciplinary look at China since 1978. We provide funds for each scholar to go out and research for that course on trips, and there is also a field trip in the autumn.”
Both urged applicants to make their personal statement stand out and to prepare well for the short Skype interview.
James added: “Make sure you have a good recommendation from people who know you well. Use your personal statement to help us understand who you are – it’s not just about your academic quality, think about why you want to participate and how this will tie into your future.”