• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Chinese
  • Areas of interest Asian Languages

Literary Chinese is a written language that matured long before the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.), when China first became an empire. It continued to be used by China's governing and elite cultures for nearly three millennia. A good command of Literary Chinese is therefore indispensable for the study of pre-modern Chinese literature, thought, history, politics and society.

The idioms, allusions, syntax, and style of Literary Chinese continue to pervade the modern language. Its enduring influence results from the fact that the great legacies of Chinese culture, right down to the present day, have been largely preserved in this medium. Without a grounding in Literary Chinese, it is therefore impossible to gain a full understanding of newspaper articles, literary works, and scholarly prose written in contemporary Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China. Literary Chinese has also shaped the linguistic and cultural traditions of Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The course Literary Chinese 1 focuses on the analysis and translation of a selection of texts for beginners from the pre-Qin (before 221 BC) and the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). Students get to know the main structural and grammatical elements of the language. Review sessions serve to deepen understanding of grammatical forms, function words, and sentence patterns. Techniques of translation as well as cultural background essential to the understanding of the texts will also be studied.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. To acquire an introductory command of Literary Chinese, and to develop an understanding of aspects of its syntax.
2. To acquire skills of literary translation from Classical Chinese into English.
3. To become familiar with a range of issues, both theoretical and methodological, pertaining to studies of traditional China.
4. To develop skills in the use of a range of basic Chinese and English language Sinological bibliographical and other reference tools.
5. To apply these various skills and methodologies in the preparation of translations.

Indicative Assessment

Preparation of written translations for each class. Two of these translations (with annotations) shall be handed to the convenor before class on dates to be announced     20%
Test 1:  vocabulary, questions about grammar, and a brief translation         20%
Test 2:  translation of an unseen text (vocabulary partly supplied) and questions about grammar 20%
Final exam:  translation of an unseen text (little vocabulary supplied), questions about grammar 40%

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


3 hours per week, 36 contact hours

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed CHIN2022 and CHIN2023 or CHIN2020 or JPNS2015. Incompatible with CHIN6530




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $2856
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4080
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2236 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person N/A

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