Thursday, November 12, 2015

Academic Life: Taking Classes at the HNC

Curious about what is like to take graduate coursework in Chinese? Read on to hear from our student blogger, Andrew about class offerings, course requirements and the course workload.

Hello Everyone!
For this week I’ll be talking about the most important element to life here at the HNC, academics! I’ll try to give you a general description of academics here and soon I’ll try to hold interviews with professors about their views on academics.
At the HNC, students take subject-based classes in both Chinese and English; meaning that there aren’t any courses solely focused on language. For example, although I’m taking 3 courses taught completely in Chinese, the subjects that they cover are: International Political Economics, Finance, and Social Issues of China’s Modernization.
Most students take 4-5 courses each semester. I am taking 5, so, in addition to the Chinese courses, I am also taking two courses taught in English: International Humanitarian & Armed Conflict Law, and Economics of Strategy.
Each class is an hour-and-a-half long and meets twice a week. Class sizes range from 30 students (at the most) to around 5. The instruction is mostly lecture and discussion based.
The courses are all based around 6 major subject groups: International Politics, International Economics, Comparative & International Law, Energy Resources and Environment, Chinese Studies, and American Studies (there are also seminar courses and mandatory MA Thesis courses for people that are doing the two year HNC Masters program.) 
To give you an idea of all the courses offered here, I figured it would be best list the course offerings for this semester.
English and Chinese Course List for Fall 2015
International Politics
·       Politics of Rural Development (English)
·       Ethics and Public Policy in Global Perspective (English)
·       Comparative Politics (English)
·       American Foreign Policy in Asia (English)
·       Comparative Foreign Policy (English)
·       East Asian Regionalism (English)
·       Contemporary International Politics (Chinese)
·       Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy (Chinese)
·       International Relations in the 20th Century (Chinese)
·       Chinese Government and Politics (Chinese)
·       International Political Economies (Chinese)
International and Comparative Law
·       Environmental Justice (English)
·       History and Philosophy of Law in the West (English)
·       International Humanitarian Law (English)
·       Legal Foundations of International Relations (English)
·       Chinese Constitution (Chinese)
·       Chinese Economic and Commercial Laws (Chinese)
·       International Law (Chinese)
·       Chinese Foreign Trade Legal System (Chinese)
International Economics
·       Comparative Economies: U.S. and China (English)
·       Economics of Strategy (English)
·       Macroeconomics (English)
·       Money, Banking and Financial Institutions (English)
·       Microeconomics (Chinese)
·       International Trade Theory and Policy (Chinese)
·       Introduction to Finance (Chinese)
·       Economic Principles (Chinese)
·       Multinational Corporation and Foreign Direct Investment (Chinese)
Resources, Environment and Energy
·       Global Energy Fundamentals (English)
·       Air Pollution and its Control (English)
·       Policy Instruments for Environmental and Resource Management (Chinese)
·       Environmental Risk Assessment and Management (Chinese)
·       Water Resources and the Water Environment (Chinese)
Chinese Studies
·       Social Issues of China’s Modernization (Chinese)
·       Anthropology and Chinese Studies (Chinese)
·       Religious Systems in China (Chinese)
·       Urban Governance in China (Chinese)
·       MA Interdisciplinary Studies Tutorial (English)
·       MA Thesis Preparation (English)
**Side note, if you are interested in taking courses outside of HNC at Nanjing University, there are ways to do that**
Now for the part that no one wants to hear: homework. The workload here can get intense! I understand that’s a subjective statement, some people may have an easier time than others, yada yada yada, but even though I have heard some people react more strongly than others, I have yet to meet someone here who has said, “Meh… the workload’s no problem.”
While the readings are intense, they are manageable and, for the most part professors, do not expect that you will come into class with each of the readings completely memorized. They usually will expect students to know enough to have a good understanding of the subjects covered and contribute to a classroom discussion. There you can take a deep breath now.
Outside of readings, most courses assign essays and presentations for homework. The economics courses, understandably, rely more on problem sets and tests for graded assignments.
Well I hope that gives you a good perspective of academics at HNC. Sorry if it got a little dry, but I wanted to make sure you guys were clear on the basics of academics here at HNC. Academics are the most important aspect to life here and no student would question that, however if you think that means that we’re all work and no play, well… stay tuned for my next post.
If there’s anything that is unclear, or you want to know more about academics or life at HNC in general, shoot me an email at  
P.S. First off, I promised to keep you guys updated on the gym situation and… we have a new squat rack and barbell in the gym!

P.P.S My favorite bagel place, the one I mentioned in my last post, closed this past Friday. (GASP!) Fortunately, they just relocated across the street, so we can still get bagels and coffee every morning.

Written by Andrew Retallick , HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student
To contact Andrew email