Department of Language and Culture in Medicine

The Department of Language and Culture in Medicine at Peking University is China's leading centre for interdisciplinary education and research in narrative medicine, medical translation/interpretation as well as health humanities. The Department is dedicated to educating and edifying the next generation leaders in the aforementioned fields.

The predecessor of the Department of Language and Culture in Medicine is the First Foreign Language Teaching and Research Section and the Second Foreign Language Teaching and Research Section, both of which belonged to the Department of Basic Medicines of Beijing Medical University (BMU). In the 1980s, the two teaching and research sections were combined to form the Foreign Languages Division of BMU, which was responsible for the teaching of English and other foreign languages to undergraduates and postgraduates of the university. Following the merger of BMU with Peking University (PKU) in 2000, the School of Foundational Education was established in 2002. The Foreign Languages Division was renamed The Department of Applied Linguistics and became a part of the School of Foundational Education. Next, the Chinese Teaching and Research Section of the Division of Social Sciences and the Humanities was merged into the department. Later, the Chinese Language Teaching Program for international students was also merged into the department. In 2019, The Department of Applied Linguistics was renamed as the Department of Language and Culture in Medicine.

At present, there are thirty-four faculty members in the Department of Language and Culture in Medicine, including two full professors, nine associate professors, sixteen lecturers, three international faculty members, one postdoctoral research fellow and three staff members. The Department consists of six sections: Biomedical English Major, General English I, General English II (for 8-Year Medical Programs), Postgraduate English, Second Foreign Languages (Japanese, French and German), and Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. There are three auxiliary offices: General Administration Office, Library, and Language Laboratory Management Office.

In September 2002, the five-year Biomedical English Undergraduate Program was launched in the former School of Foundational Education. In 2016, the program was renamed English (Medical English). As the host department, The Department takes charge of the curriculum design, instruction in language and culture courses, supervision of internship and graduation thesis of the program. Over the past 19years, 14classes of students have graduated. Students of this program have an outstanding record in the National Tests for English Majors (TEM Level 4 and Level 8), with a near 100% passing rate for TEM-4, and has achieved 94% or more passing rate for TEM-8. The employment perspective of graduates is also very promising. By 2020, 475students have graduated from the program. They have demonstrated strong employability, with 98.1% successfully landed their first jobs upon graduation. Most of the graduates were admitted to prestigious universities, domestic or overseas, for further study, others were recruited by domestic or international institutions.

In 2016, the Department initiated “4+1” joint programs with prestigious universities overseas. After completing the first four years of studies, students who meet the requirements can apply to study in one of the partner universities for one years, and then obtain a Master’s degree from that university upon graduation in addition to the bachelor degree from Peking University. Currently, we have signed 4+1 joint programs with the University of Edinburgh, University College London, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The research interests of the faculty include narrative medicine, sociolinguistics, literature and medicine, cross-cultural communication, discourse analysis of doctor-patient communication, translation studies, academic English, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and comparative health systems. In recent years, many academic studies have been published, exerting influence in relevant fields of study, most notably narrative medicine, in which the department maintains a leading position in China. Faculty members have been actively supervising student research, to nurture their research competence and encourage their academic publication; at the meantime to lay a solid foundation for the eminent launch of a Master’s program in the Department.

If you would like to know more about the Department of Language and Culture and Medicine at Peking University or to arrange a visit, please feel free to contact us at