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Personal profile


Shirley Chan is Associate Professor in Languages and Cultures where she teaches and researches in Chinese Studies. She has broad research interests in Chinese culture, Chinese philosophy, history and textual studies. She is interested in the relationship between human nature and societal issues and how human beings shape the world we inhabit. Utilizing the ancient texts and past human experience to reveal relevant insights into the complex modern world, Shirley’s research is currently focusing on language and philosophy of crisis in ancient China. 

Shirley believes a deep understanding of Chinese culture and history in a global context is crucial not only from an academic point of view but also for building ethical, just, and inclusive communities.

Dr. Chan has served as President of the Chinese Studies Association of Australia (CSAA) and was an executive committee member of the Oriental Society of Australia for many years. In addition, she served on the editorial board of several journals. Shirley spoke on Chinese culture and history in programs produced by the BBC (Genius of the Ancient World: Confucius, with British historian Bettany Hughes), ABC, SBS, and international online teaching platforms such as MOOC and Coursera. She delivered invited lectures and seminars to museums, art exhibitions, cultural centres, city councils, research centres, and various overseas and local institutions. She is a member of the MQ University Research Centre for Cultural Heritage and Environment.

Dr. Chan is available to supervise HDR and research projects.


Research interests

- Sinology, Chinese culture, Chinese history, Chinese philosophy, ancient Chinese texts and intellectual history, Chinese excavated texts, etc.


Currently Convening and/or Teaching

FOAR7008 Globalizing Cultures (post-graduate unit)

INTS7001 Special Topics in International Studies: Languages and Cultures

CHIN2210/3010 Chinese Studies 5

CHIN2220/CHI3020 Chinese Studies 6

INTS2001 Language in Use

INTS7000 Critique in Language, Literature and Culture

INTS3010 International Studies Research Project 

Courses Taught and Convened

Traditional Chinese Thought

The Chinese Classics

Chinese Literature and Culture

Traditional Chinese Culture and Society I

Traditional Chinese Culture and Society II

The Chinese Capstone Unit

Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society I

Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society II

The Chinese Research Project

Chinese History

Chinese Literature from Hong Kong and Taiwan

Introduction to Chinese Civilization

Introduction to Classical Chinese

Advanced Chinese I

Advanced Chinese II

Intermediate Chinese I

Intermediate Chinese II

Introductory Chinese I

Introductory Chinese II

Courses Convened

Chinese Calligraphy

History of Chinese Art


Research engagement

  • Dr Helen Sham-Ho Research Funding for Chinese Philosophy 2022-
  • Albert Li/Kenny Li Research Funding for Ancient Chinese Texts 2015- (CI)
  • Faculty of Arts Themed Research Workshop Grant, 2014. (CI)
  • Faculty of Arts Publication Subsidy Scheme, 2013. (CI)
  • Macquarie Research Development Grant, 2010-2012. (CI)
  • Research Grant, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, 2009-2011. (CI)
  • Departmental Teaching Index Grant Funding, 2011. (CI)
  • Macquarie University New Staff Grant,2005-2006. (CI)  

Research student supervision

PhD and HDR Supervisions

  • Daniel Lee: The Sensual and the Moral: "Confucian Poetics" and the Book of Odes (2010-2013) (Principal Supervisor) (PhD, completed) 
  • Iain Clark: Legitimacy from Antiquity: Qing Imperial Ceramic Ritual Vessels for State Occasions (2010-2014) (Principal Supervisor) (PhD, completed) 
  • Jonathan Goodall: An Examination of the Syncretic Nature of Han Fei's Philosophy and His Utilization of the Concept of Wuwei in the Han Fei Zi (2011) (Principal Supervisor) (Honours, completed)
  • Daniel Lee: Eileen Chang on Hong Kong: a Cultural Delineation of a Colonial Discourse (2009) (Principal Supervisor) (Honours, completed) 
  • Esther Li: The Effect of Australian Culture on Compliment Responses of Mainland Chinese Speakers of English (Associate Supervisor) (2011-2015) (PhD, completed) 
  • Sabrina Yuan: Robert van Gulik: Life and Work (Associate Supervisor) (2012-2016) (PhD, completed) 
  • Lam Wai Hung: Interpreting and Understanding Traditional Chinese Medical Texts: Chinese Philosophy in Zhang Xichun’s 張錫純 Yixue zhong zhong can xi lu 醫學衷中參西錄 (On Medicine: Chinese at Heart and Western as Reference) (Part-time) (Principal Supervisor) (2015-2021) (PhD, completed)
  • Tyler, Dehn (MRes): “Nature” (性), “Mind” (心), and “Sentience” (有情) in Zhanran’s Jingangpi (金剛錍)”: An investigation of “nature” and moral cultivation in Jingxi Zhanran’s “Diamond Scalpel” (Principal Supervisor) (2021-2023) (Completed with HD)
  • Wang Xia (MRes): The Politics of Translation: Paratext Narratives in the Service of the Hundred-Day Reform in China (1849) (Principal Supervisor) (2022-2023) (Completed)
  • Lili Cai (PhD): The Sino-British Relations and the 19th Century Globalization: John Francis Davis’ Role (Principal Supervisor) (2023- )

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Sinology, Confucianism and Chinese Philosophy, Chinese Intellectual History, Chinese Studies, Early Confucianism and the Confucian Analects, University of Sydney

Award Date: 18 Dec 2001

Master of International Studies, Department of Government and Public Administration, University of Sydney

BA (Asian Studies), Chinese Studies, Social Antropology, Japanese Studies, University of Sydney

External positions

Visiting Professor , University of Bern, Switzerland

Jun 2023Jul 2023

Humanities and Social Sciences Panel, Hong Kong University Grants Committee, Hong Kong University Grants Council (General Research Fund)

1 Nov 202230 Oct 2025

Member, the Review College, Flanders Research Foundation, FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen) (2021-2024)

Oct 2021 → …

Research Grant Reviewer, Israel Science Foundation

Mar 2021 → …

Research grant reviewer, College of Expert Reviewer, European Science Foundation

Nov 2020 → …

Honourary Research Fellow, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Feb 2019 → …

External Reviewer, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong

Feb 2019 → …

Editor-in-chief, Journal of Oriental Society of Australia, University of Sydney

Oct 2018May 2021

Council member, Chinese Studies Association of Australia

Jul 2017Jul 2019

Member, editorial board, Bamboo and Silk, Brill

Dec 2016 → …

Adjunct Professor, Jinan University

Jan 2016 → …

President, Chinese Studies Association of Australia

Jul 2015Jul 2017

International panel member , Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ).

May 2013 → …

Visiting Professor, Tsinghua University

Mar 2012May 2012

Visiting Scholar, Hong Kong Baptist University

Jan 2012Mar 2012

Visiting Professor, National Taiwan University

Jun 2009Jul 2009

Visiting Scholar, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Dec 2007Feb 2008

Member, Executive committee, Oriental Society of Australia

Jan 2007May 2021

Honorary Associate, University of Sydney

Jan 2003Dec 2005

Language Examiner (Cantonese and Mandarin), The University of New South Wales


Qantas Airways Language Proficiency Test Assessor (Mandarin and Cantonese) , The University of New South Wales



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