China study in Chinese

What is it about?

"First of all, I would like to emphasise that you need to be relatively proficient in Chinese language to take this subject. There are a lot of terminologies involved and poor language skills could hamper your understanding and expression. There is also CSE but I don’t think a lot of JCs offer it. Content-wise, the H2 CSC syllabus covers 4 main aspects of contemporary China, namely its social, economic, political and diplomatic development (社会、经济、政治和外交). For example, in 社会, you will learn about China’s population crisis, in 政治, you will learn about the CPC’s strategy in tackling corruption, and in 外交, you will learn about US-China relations.

While this subject is centred around China, some of the knowledge covered can be applied all over the world, as many issues faced by China may be faced by other countries as well, like ageing population, human rights violations and corruption.

An important thing to take note is that China is changing rapidly, so unlike History or Literature, the content tested in CSC is never fixed. Therefore it’s good to read up on news about China regularly to build up your content and aid your understanding. Developing a good reading habit will also help you prepare for the Independent Research component(you have to write a research paper in 6 months) which will be done in J2.

Assessment-wise, there are 3 papers. Paper 1 is a source-based case study (案例分析) in which you will be required to analyse a few sources and answer 3 questions totaling 25 marks. Paper 2 requires you to write 3 essays out of the 4 available options given, each accounting for 25 marks. Paper 3, which I think is the most challenging part, requires you to do a 4000字 Independent Research (IR) on one specific topic on China. This will only be assessed in J2. I can’t provide more details about the IR since I have not started mine, but I definitely think it will be a meaningful experience. Just imagine having done a research paper on your own after 2 years of JC. If you are proficient in Chinese and willing to learn more about this economic and political giant, as well as some international affairs, CSC is definitely the subject for you." --- Senior D(HCI)

"CSC is one of the more interesting subject I would say. CSC stands for China Studies in Chinese. As the name suggests, it is a humanities subject in which you learn about china in chinese. You will be learning 4 main areas on China which are Politics, Social, Economy and Foreign affairs, all of which have many smaller subtopics which you would explore in your 2 years in JC. For exams, you will have 3 papers, 1 of which is a research paper which you have to do over the span of 1 year in JC 2 in the area which you choose, while the other 2 are timed exams on a specific date. This subject requires a lot of reading and quite a high proficiency in Chinese, as there is no time for you to learn and figure out word for word what the text means, but those who are passionate and am really interested in this area of study can go ahead and give it a try by all means. But definitely go in mentally prepared that if you are not comfortable and proficient enough in chinese, it will be a hell of a ride and extremely taxing. But on the other hand it will be interesting to learn all the different perspective towards China in different areas, how they are developing and evolving despite stress from the west, while trying to maintain influence on the global stage." --- Senior K.W(DHS)

Why did you choose to take this subject? Is it what you expected it to be?

"First of all,China is important. Just look at where your phones, your clothes, and your home appliances are made in, probably China most of the time. China is the world's largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods. It is also currently the world's second largest economy and is projected to be the first in 2035, overtaking the United States. China's influence on the world is far-reaching, especially in terms of international trade and politics.

Secondly, China is becoming increasingly relevant to Singapore. In 2020 Q1, ASEAN has overtaken Europe to become China's largest trading partner. Not to mention one of the world's largest trade deals, RCEP that was just signed days ago, which significantly strengthens the economic ties among major powers in the Asia-Pacific. The fact that China is the most prominent partner of ASEAN and the strongest economy in the Asia-Pacific shows that it is important to understand China, especially for us living in Singapore.

Thirdly, bilingualism. Taking CSC not only enables you to acquire a broad range of knowledge about China, it also significantly increases your proficiency in the Chinese language. If you are considering taking a Chinese subject but you are not interested in Chinese literature, try CSC.

Oftentimes I find that the knowledge covered in CSC is applicable to GP as well, especially for questions asking about your society. I always quote China and Singapore interchangeably." --- Senior D(HCI)

"I did not really choose to take this subject. I took it because of me being part of the bicultural studies scholarship program that dictates that its compulsory for me to take up this subject when I am in JC. I actually went into JC thinking I will flunk this subject, but it turnt out differently. Definitely there pros and cons to taking this subject, to me despite being quite proficient in chinese for a singaporean boy, it was quite intimidating to find a lot of PRC scholars taking this subject at first. However I soon learn that it doesnt matter where you are from, yes you may have a better understanding and slight advantage in terms of understanding the situation in China if you are a PRC scholar, however csc really test you in terms of your critical thinking, like why you think certain problems exist in the systems or decisions made by the Communist Party of China, and how you think they can solve them with the resources that they have, even grading on the current efforts that they have made. So knowing how china work aint going to cut it, its really about how you develop your arguments and provide logical and critical insights on the situation. However upon saying that, you still need to read alot and understand the situation in China first, before you can even provide insights. Dont go in thinking that you are good in chinese, can provide sound arguments and you can get an A. It is still good to read on the views of experts and researchers on certain topics on China" --- Senior K.W(DHS)

What do you do during lessons? What is it like taking the subject?

"In HCI, most of the lessons are lecture-based. You will be given notes at the start of every lesson and teachers will go through them on powerpoint slides. During the lessons, there will be time for you to discuss what you have learnt with your peers. There are weekly news sharing sessions as well.

The teachers will only go through the notes once, and there aren't a lot of tutorials to do (in J1), so most of the studies are self-driven.

In J2, there will be a 4000-word independent research paper which takes up 30% of the A level grade. You will have to craft your own question and do a considerable amount of primary and secondary research. You will get a glimpse of the academic research skills that will come in handy in university." --- Senior D(HCI)

"We will actually read the materials which our teacher have provided on a certain topic beforehand, and go into class prepared to discuss our perspective and views, or doubts which we would like to clarify. We will then be engaged in some sort of discussion session with the teacher, and my teacher would tell us some of the different perspectives on the issue by other experts and also some of their personal experiences and views on the topic as well." --- Senior K.W(DHS)

How easy/difficult is it to score?

"Personally(others may say otherwise), if you are proficient in Chinese and have a strong interest in the subject, I would say CSC is definitely not difficult to ace as long as you read and practise consistently.

Yes, there is a lot of content in CSC. But don't worry, from my experience, as long as you fully familiarise yourself with the content knowledge and are able to present what you have learnt logically in exams, you most probably will secure your A. Unlike economics, the questions are not very unpredictable and there aren't a lot of application skills required.

Like any other Arts subject, exam time management is crucial. In CSC, you need to be able to write a structured and logical 1500-word essay in 45 minutes, entirely in Chinese. That's a lot of training required. " --- Senior D(HCI)

"I would say it is extremely difficult to score. Reason being it is not like your typical gp essay with three arguments and done deal for the 2 main timed exam papers. You still have to compare all your arguments, provide reasonings on the comparison, and for some questions you may even need to provide solutions to the problems and then proceed to grade them. Time is really your enemy for the 2 papers, as when you flip open the question paper, you have about 5 mins to read the text and understand it, and if you really want to finish the paper and score well, upon finishing reading the text and question, there is not much time for planning, in fact you need to be so familiarized with the topic that you can start your essay immediately. Furthermore, not many schools offer this subject, only the SAP schools offer it, hence you will be put against all the other elites who dared to take this subject. Hence you will need to compete with them and find ways to surpass them should you want to be ahead on the bell curve. Lastly the research paper is not as easy as one think it is. In fact it requires a lot of research and you have to provide value in an area which you have chosen. If you choose a popular topic, experts and researchers may have already researched and provide their perspective on it, and you have to somehow outdo them or provide new value to the table. If you choose more obscure topics, there is little info on the internet for you to find to substantiate your claims. Hence I would say CSC though you can prepare for it, it is definitely one of the hardest topic to score if you are someone who dislike doing research on your own, but still manageable if you are someone who is willing to put in the extra mile to score and do well in it" --- Senior K.W(DHS)