The China Studies Program at Leiden University caters to students seeking a bachelor's degree (BA), master's degree (MA), or doctorate degree (PhD). I teach two types of courses in the program:

Language Acquisition

The first type, Classical Chinese language acquisition, includes these courses:

  • Classical Chinese 1 (BA Level 1)
  • Classical Chinese 2 (BA Level 2)
  • Classical Chinese 3 (BA Level 3)
  • Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese (MA Level)
  • Topical Readings in Classical Chinese (MA Level)

In the first two courses, compulsory for all China Studies majors, students are introduced to the vocabulary and grammar of the classical literary language of China, and familiarized with passages and texts from a wide range of historical periods and literary genres. In these two courses we use my textbook of Classical Chinese. The elective courses at a higher level make students conversant with Classical Chinese texts on a topic of the teacher's choosing, a different topic each academic term.


The sun along the mountains bows;
The Yellow River seawards flows.
You will enjoy a grander sight
By climbing to a greater height.

Poem by Wang Zhihuan
王之渙 (688-742), calligraphy by Chen Peiqiu 陳佩秋 (b. 1922), translation by Xu Yuanchong 許淵沖 (b. 1921).

Lectures and Tutorials

The second type, lectures and tutorials, includes courses on these topics:

  • Chinese History
  • Chinese Culture
  • Chinese Philosophy
  • Chinese Religion

Lower-level courses (BA level 1) are lectures introducing students to the most important Chinese historical periods, people, and events; the most influential Chinese philosophical texts, thinkers, and traditions; and the most prominent Chinese religious beliefs and practices. Intermediate-level courses (BA level 2) are tutorials that deepen students' knowledge in this field. Higher-level courses (BA level 3 and up) focus on specific topics (e.g., ideas about war and peace), one topic per academic term.

Confucius Instructs His Disciples 孔子講學, part of a painting by Guo Defu 郭德福.

More information about these courses is available at the China Studies Program website. In addition to teaching, I also supervise students who are writing their thesis or dissertation.

Graduate Students

Here is a list of graduate students who worked — or are still working — towards a doctorate degree under my supervision:


Daniel Stumm wrote a Ph.D. dissertation titled "Conceptualizing Authorship in Late Imperial Chinese Philology." His project was supervised by professor Hilde De Weerdt (primary supervisor) and myself (secondary supervisor). He obtained his doctorate degree in April 2019.


Puning Liu wrote a Ph.D. dissertation titled "Political Legitimacy in Chinese History: The Case of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535)" under the supervision of professor Hilde De Weerdt (secondary supervisor) and myself (primary supervisor). He obtained his doctorate degree in April 2018.

Puning Liu (right) and Paul van Els

Daniel Stumm (right) during his Ph.D. defense
(online due to the covid19 pandemic)

To obtain their degree, graduate students are required to orally defend their Ph.D. thesis in a traditional ceremony that takes place in the Senate Room of the Leiden University Academy Building. Upon graduation, students may leave their signature in the Zweetkamertje (Sweat Room), a long-standing Leiden University tradition.