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Survival tips: How to write your graduation thesis in Chinese

How long does it take you to write it? Well not the whole year right?


Survival tips: How to write your graduation thesis in Chinese

How long does it take you to write it? Well not the whole year right?


Studying in university is hard no matter where you are. Completing your degree in a foreign country is even harder, and studying in China in the Chinese language is particularly tough. It is challenging emotionally and academically, but there are few tips on how to survive in a Chinese university.

When you survive through three tough years in university, you feel free, having passed all your classes, with just the thesis left. But how long will it take you to write? Well not the whole year for sure right? Well this is the part where it gets tricky, here are few guidelines on how to write your graduation thesis in Chinese.

Choosing your topic/title

The most important part of the thesis is choosing your topic, whether you are studying international relations or majoring in journalism, you need to know what are you going to write about at the end of the third year. At latest, in the the beginning of the fourth. Teachers usually, and myself included, advise you to chose a topic that has to do something with your home country. Choosing such topics gives you great advantage: since we are foreigners we have a great advantage in being able to use websites from our home country when searching for information; it is probably the only time when your paper might be better than a paper of a Chinese student. Teachers will be excited to learn something new from you, and the last and most important reason is even if your thesis itself is not deep enough or maybe not completely correct, who would know?

Choosing your teacher

Choosing a teacher is probably the second most important task you have to face when writing a thesis. First of all you need to choose a teacher that knows you better than other teachers do. Because in order for a teacher give you a good mark, or for you not to be frustrated with them, you need to have a connection or a mutual understanding. It is not only important that you chose a teacher with mutual appreciation, but also one from the area of study your thesis is related to. If writing about media state in Kyrgyzstan, a teacher that specializes in Central Asia, or at least Russia, would be preferable.

When turning in your graduation thesis, most of schools obligate you to write a 毕业论文手册 ( bìyè lùnwén shǒucè ). This includes what made you chose the thesis, how many times you have changed the content, and how many times you have actually met with your teacher (dates included). Not meeting your teacher or communicating with him/her before turning in your thesis might bite you in the ass.

May god bless Google 

When looking for information related to your thesis, read as much as possible from books, articles, and newsletters, but the internet always has fresh stuff, and a lot of it. May god bless Google, because you are going to use a lot of it. That is why it is better to chose something that relates to your country, so it is easier to find stuff in your native language and websites from your country. Plus there is a big chance Chinese websites have nothing on your topic.

When turning in your graduation thesis each school runs it through a plagiarism program. Most schools have a penalty for those who have more than 20 percent, few schools do not let you exceed 10 percent. So in case you did find something on Chinese websites, be careful how you use it.

Writing the content 

When actually writing your thesis, you may find that while your Chinese is good, it is not THAT good. Most of the information that you have found on your home websites need translation, and it is much harder than it looks like. A lot of foreigners chose professionals who help you translate the content. We do not advise you to just translate someone else’s thesis or something you have found on Google, but seeking a little help in translation is not actually cheating, and if your whole graduation is on the line, who cares?

Translating the material might not be the only hard part of the thesis, when writing in your own words and adding the materials, it may all seem correct to you, but let me assure you there will be mistakes in Chinese. Some teachers even tell foreigners that the schools are not going to be too harsh on your thesis content, but the thesis cannot have mistakes in Chinese. It is better before turning it in, to ask for some assistance from a Chinese person. Just let someone look over your final version of the thesis and fix the grammar mistakes, or even spelling. Whether it is your friend or someone you are paying, believe me, it is necessary.

Turning it in

When the thesis deadline is approaching, do it early because the teacher will always ask you to change something, add something, or fix something. Rarely is a teacher satisfied with your thesis in its primary form. Aim for two weeks before the deadline. This way you have time to wait for the teachers response, and to fix little mistakes or even add content.

When turning it in make sure you fulfill all the requirements of your teachers and your school.