Discover China with These 7 Free Online Courses Offered by Top Universities

There is no doubt that China is a truly fascinating nation. It has an incredible and long history that has influenced the world. Its culture is diverse and intricate, offering a wide range of traditions, art forms, and customs to explore. And importantly, China’s economy continues to grow rapidly, making it an important player on the global stage.

Whether you seek to delve into China’s past, present, or future, there are many free online courses available that can provide you with a deeper understanding of this nation. To get you started, our team of experts gathered 7 interesting courses offered by highly-regarded universities in China. These courses cover various topics, such as politics, economics, society, culture, and religion, and are suitable for learners of different levels and backgrounds. In addition to being completely free, they also allow you to learn at your own pace. Many provide a variety of online resources to keep the lessons interesting, such as interactive lectures.

Want to immerse yourself in China further by studying there? Find your dream program on the China Admissions platform and click “Apply Now”.

1. Chinese Culture and Contemporary China

Offered by: Nanjing University via Coursera
Duration: 6 weeks, 2 hours per week
Rating: 4.6 stars, 498 reviews
Link to enrol: Coursera

This course explores the foundations of Chinese civilization and the dimensions of Chinese culture. It provides a deeper knowledge and understanding of various aspects of China, with six modules covering Chinese Confucian thought, painting, music, costume, cuisine and traditional festivals.


  • Learn about the historical, economic and legal contexts of Chinese civilization and how they shaped its culture.
  • Understand the core concepts and doctrines of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism and how they influenced Chinese thought and behavior.
  • Discover the variety of expressions of Chinese culture in calligraphy, painting, poetry, fiction, food, holidays, cities, mountains, ethnic regions and customs.
  • Explore the contemporary aspects of Chinese culture, such as TV, movies, fashion, gongfu, taiji and medical tourism.

2. Chinese History From Warring States to the Tang Dynasty (481-907)

Offered by: Peking University via Coursera
Duration: 8 weeks, 3-4 hours per week
Rating: 4.9 stars, 1,234 reviews
Link to enrol: Coursera

This course is perfect for those interested in the history of China. From the Warring States period to the Tang dynasty, the lessons cover a span of over 1,000 years of political, social, cultural and religious developments. Discover the key figures, events and ideas that shaped Chinese civilization. This course is a great opportunity for you to develop your historical thinking skills and appreciate the diversity and complexity of Chinese history.


  • Learn about the origins and characteristics of the Warring States period, and how it influenced the development of Chinese philosophy, literature and art.
  • Understand the achievements and challenges of the Qin and Han dynasties, and their impact on China’s political, economic, and cultural development.
  • Explore the origins and doctrines of Buddhism and Daoism, and how they were transmitted and adapted in China.
  • Discover the artistic and literary expressions of the Tang dynasty and its interactions with other regions and civilizations.
  • Analyze the causes and consequences of the An Lushan Rebellion, and its effects on the Tang dynasty and Chinese history.

3. Doing Business in China Specialization

Offered by: The Chinese University of Hong Kong via Coursera
Duration: 1 month, 10 hours per week
Rating: 4.8 stars, 338 reviews
Link to enrol: Coursera

This specialization consists of four courses that will help you master essential knowledge, strategies and tools to do business in China. You will learn how to understand the historical, economic and legal contexts of doing business in China, using insights to develop strategic plans. It will also teach you how to sell to Chinese consumers, manage people and teams in China, and handle the challenges and opportunities of doing business in China.

The specialization is suitable for beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of doing business in China, as well as for professionals who want to enhance their skills and insights for working with Chinese partners, customers and employees. You can also enrol in any one of the four courses individually.

Course Highlights:

  • Gain evidence-based research in psychology, economics, legal studies and marketing to help you conduct business in China successfully.
  • Discover the behavioral characteristics of Chinese consumers, entrepreneurs and employees, and how to influence and motivate them.
  • Apply your skills to real business challenges in a capstone project, where you will come up with an innovative product idea and a business plan for entering the Chinese market.

4. China’s First Empires and the Rise of Buddhism

Offered by: Harvard University via edX
Duration: 15 weeks, 3-5 hours per week
Rating: 4.7 stars, 432 reviews
Link to enrol: edX

This course examines the formation and expansion of the Qin and Han empires and the emergence and spread of Buddhism in China. The Qin and Han dynasties were the first imperial unifications of China, laying the foundations for its political, economic, and cultural development. Buddhism was one of the major religions that entered China from India, and had a profound impact on its spiritual and artistic expressions.


  • Learn about the achievements and challenges of the Qin and Han dynasties, and their impact on China’s political, economic, and cultural development.
  • Understand the origins and doctrines of Buddhism, and how it was transmitted and adapted in China.
  • Explore the artistic and literary expressions of Buddhism in China, and its interactions with other religious traditions.

5. China’s Role in Global Tourism Development

Offered by: Nankai University via FutureLearn
Duration: 5 weeks, 4 hours per week
Rating: 3.8 stars, 6 reviews
Link to enrol: FutureLearn

This course explores the roles of culture, globalisation and China’s rise in global tourism, and the impact on tourism management. The course covers topics such as the history of international tourism, the Belt and Road Initiative, tourism development in China, sustainable tourism planning, medical tourism, risk perception and travel decisions, and smart tourism. The course also features regional and global case examples and interviews with industry experts.


  • Learn how to analyse global tourism development trends and their sustainability implications.
  • Understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in China and with Chinese tourists.
  • Discover the latest innovations and technologies in smart tourism and how they enhance the tourist experience.
  • Apply your knowledge to real-world scenarios and problems in a capstone project.

6. China in the World

Offered by: University of Hong Kong via edX
Duration: 6 weeks, 3-4 hours per week
Rating: 4.5 stars, 67 reviews
Link to enrol: edX

This course explores China’s role in the world from historical and contemporary perspectives. It covers topics such as China’s interactions with other civilizations, foreign relations and diplomacy, participation in global governance and institutions, economic development and trade, environmental and energy challenges, cultural and soft power, and relations with its neighbors and regions. The course is perfect for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of China’s rise, and what it means for the world.


  • Learn about the historical and cultural foundations of China’s worldview and foreign policy.
  • Understand the opportunities and challenges of China’s engagement with the world in various domains and sectors.
  • Discover the diversity and complexity of China’s relations with different countries and regions, and the perspectives of various stakeholders and actors.
  • Analyze the current issues and debates on China’s role in the world, and develop your own critical and informed opinions.

7. China Strategy

Offered by: The Chinese University of Hong Kong via edX
Duration: 4 weeks, 3-4 hours per week
Rating: 4.8 stars, 141 reviews
Link to enrol: edX

This course is designed to help you, as a strategist of a foreign company, better understand how to develop your China strategy. The course will focus on three key issues: who are the major players in China, how to choose the best entry mode, and where to locate your business in China. The course will provide you with updated knowledge and real experiences of doing business in China, as well as a capstone project where you will apply your skills to a real business challenge.


  • Learn how to analyze China’s changing strategic landscape and identify the opportunities and challenges for your business.
  • Understand the different types of entry modes and their advantages and disadvantages for doing business in China.
  • Discover the best location strategy for your business based on the regional characteristics and development trends in China.

Study Abroad in China

While these courses allow you to gain a deeper understanding of China, nothing can compare to the experience of immersing yourself in the country and seeing it for yourself. If you are interested in studying, working, or living in China, you can browse and apply to various programs on the China Admissions platform. China Admissions is a leading online platform that helps international students and professionals to find and apply to the best programs in China.

China Admissions platform

Kay contributes to the Marketing team at China Admissions. A "third-culture kid" based in Thailand, she has had lifelong exposure to international communities and has worked with top global brands. Having studied abroad herself, she encourages young minds to invest in their self-development and foster an appreciation for new countries and cultures.
Kay M

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