MSc China in Comparative Perspective

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Application code L6U2
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London


The MSc China in Comparative Perspective programme brings together LSE’s considerable multi-disciplinary expertise on China. The programme is based in the Department of Anthropology but draws on a range of social science disciplines. This enables our students to examine China’s politics, international relations, economic history, society and culture from a variety of perspectives.

The programme will help you to understand China in a comparative and historical framework. You’ll compare and contrast China with India, countries of modern Europe as well as other appropriate comparator countries.

The programme is flexible and enables you to shape your studies to your own needs and interests. All students will take our China in Comparative Perspective course. This course covers topics such as China's imperial bureaucracy, Chinese religion and the great divergence debate. It also explores current issues such as urban life, the family, the rule of law, and contentious politics.

You’ll be able to choose form a wide range of optional courses that suit your personal academic interests. Our list of optional courses include the disciplines of anthropology, economic history, government, international relations, and social policy. Additionally, you will write a dissertation on a comparative topic of your choice: in previous years, students have written about topics ranging from regional policy, to socialist governance, and linguistic nationalism.

This programme is an ideal preparation if you have career interests related to China in business, government, or cultural exchange. It also provides an excellent foundation for further research. Upon completion, our students will be equipped for PhD level study in anthropology, economic history, government, international relations or social policy.

The Department of Anthropology at LSE offers you a dynamic and engaged research culture. We have a strong commitment to teaching and to promoting an inclusive environment. We combine innovative research in the unfolding contemporary world with maintenance of the core anthropological traditions. The Department is decidedly international and our students - who have diverse academic backgrounds - come from all over the world.  

The Department runs a large number of special events and the weekly research seminar on anthropological theory. Students are welcome and encouraged to attend all departmental seminars and events.

Teaching and learning in Michaelmas Term 2020 
Information on how LSE will deliver teaching and learning in Michaelmas term can be found here.

Programme details

Key facts

MSc China in Comparative Perspective
Start date 28 September 2020
Duration 12 months full-time only
Applications 2018  189
Intake 2018  29
Tuition fee UK/EU: £14,640
Overseas £22,608
Financial support Graduate support scheme (deadline 27 April 2020)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent in social science
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Higher (see 'Assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MSc China in Comparative Perspective

Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in a social science.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet the minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission.

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Programme structure and courses

The compulsory course is complemented by an optional full unit course, or two half units, from a selection in anthropology, economic history, government, international relations and social policy. A further optional full unit course, or two half units, can be chosen from a broader range, many of them including China and comparisons. Following examinations in these three units in June, you will write a dissertation of not more than 10,000 words on an approved topic of your choice.

China in Comparative Perspective 
Focuses on the politics, economy and social life of China and puts in a framework in which to compare and juxtapose it with other major examples.

An independent research project of 10,000 words on an approved topic of your choice.

Courses to the value of two units from a range of options

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment

Contact hours and independent study

Scheduled teaching normally includes three hours of lectures and three hours of seminars per week, supplemented by three academic tutorials per term in groups of three to four students. During the Lent and Summer terms there are additional one-hour seminars to prepare you for dissertation writing. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

Teaching methods

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students and in the majority of cases, teach on undergraduate courses only. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide


All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is not assessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. Summative assessment may be conducted during the course or by final examination at the end of the course. You are required to write a dissertation of not more than 10,000 words on an approved topic of your own choice, which is submitted in late August. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Academic support

You will also be assigned an academic mentor who will be available for guidance and advice on academic or personal concerns.

There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.


Preliminary reading

Candea, Matei 2019. Comparison in Anthropology: The Impossible Method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Hans Steinmüller and Stephan Feutchtwang 2017. China in Comparative Perspective. World Scientific Europe. 

Fei Xiaotong 1992 [1948]. From the Soil, the Foundations of Chinese Society: A Translation of Fei Xiaotong’s Xiangtu Zhongguo, with an Introduction and Epilogue, transl. Gary Hamilton and Wang Zheng, Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Goody, Jack 2006. The Theft of History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Harrison, Henrietta 2001. China (Inventing the Nation). London: Arnold. 

Stockman, Norman 2000. Understanding Chinese Society Cambridge: Polity. 

Spence, Jonathan D. 1991. The search for modern China. New York: Norton. 

Weber, Max 1951. The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism, transl. Hans H. Gerth, New York: The Free Press. 

Yan Yunxiang 2003. Private Life under Socialism. Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village 1949-1999. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 

Zarrow, Peter 2005. China in War and Revolution, 1895-1949. London: Routledge.

You might also be interested in watching some videos selected by the Department to get a better understanding of the topics covered by the programme:

LSE Research in Mandarin: The Anthropology of China 

The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future

Dr. Hans Steinmüller: The Impact of the Changing Countryside on the Chinese Middle Class

Stephen Feuchtwang- Filial obligation and ancestor worship today 


The programme is good preparation for research work in an academic discipline, but is also appropriate for those with career interests related to China and East Asia, for example, in business, culture, or government. Graduates of this programme have chosen a variety of careers, including as analysts, consultants, journalists, and government officials.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Student stories

Dia Flores

MSc China in Comparative Perspective
Los Angeles, USA

diaFlores 170x230

Studying at LSE taught me to critically evaluate topics and methodologies not only in the anthropological realm, but also in related social science disciplines such as economics, international relations, international development, and comparative politics. Studying with like-minded individuals permitted me to think beyond an issue and search for multiple solutions to a given problem. Settling for just one answer was never an option and I learnt how to become an independent thinker by participating in class discussions and tutorials. I thrived as a student by crafting creative and solid arguments for multiple writing assignments and assessments.

All the preparation I obtained at the School have been used as transferrable skills in my current research degree programme at the MPhil/PhD level. Such skills will also prove useful in my future career as an academic and consultant. My time at LSE has proved an invaluable experience and will stay with me for a lifetime.


Andrew Porter 

MSc China in Comparative Perspective
Los Angeles, USA

andrew porter 170x230

What’s great about China in Comparative Perspective is its flexibility, which allows you to take advantage of LSE’s broad range of world-class academic departments. My four electives spanned four different departments (Anthropology, European Studies, Finance and Government). On the other hand, some of my classmates stacked up all their electives in one department, making themselves eligible to continue their studies in a PhD programme. The capstone course for the programme is an engaging challenge because the instructors insist you take a comparative approach, which requires becoming familiar enough with a certain aspect of China to choose an appropriate comparator. This then allows students to conduct a meaningful analysis of the similarities and differences between the two. The sheer autonomy of such an undertaking can be daunting but the course guides you through the process, equipping you with numerous examples of comparisons and examining China through many different lenses.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my experience at LSE was the sense of camaraderie, not just among peers, but PhD students, professors, visiting guest speakers and anyone else that might happen to drop by the on-campus pub on Friday evenings. After graduating I moved to New York, where I worked at a fintech company for a few years before starting my own venture. Currently based in Los Angeles, my consultancy specializes in advising Chinese companies on their US market entry strategies.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- statement of academic purpose
- two academic references
- CV

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

Applications for this programme are considered on a rolling basis, meaning the programme will close once it becomes full. There is no fixed deadline by which you need to apply, however to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Fees and funding

Every graduate student is charged a fee for their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2020/21 for MSc China in Comparative Perspective

UK/EU students: £14,640
Overseas students: £22,608

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Fee reductions and rewards

Students who completed undergraduate study at LSE and are beginning taught graduate study at the School are eligible for a fee reduction of around 10 per cent of the fee.

Scholarships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London  may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £13 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, EU and overseas.

This programme is eligible for needs-based awards from LSE, including the Graduate Support SchemeMaster's Awards, and Anniversary Scholarships

Selection for any funding opportunity is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline. 

Funding deadline for needs-based awards from LSE: 27 April 2020.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

Government tuition fee loans and external funding

A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. Some other governments and organisations also offer tuition fee loan schemes.

Find out more about tuition fee loans

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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