Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Modern China
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures
Viewing 1 x 2 Hour Viewing
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hours)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay, if essay element failed  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word assignemnt in lieu of seminar performance  10%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Understand major developments and important turning points in China's post-1945 history, identify key dates and policy makers
2. Analyze the legitimacy discourse of the Chinese Communist Party
3. Discuss the relationship between revolution and modernization and nationalism and internationalism in China'r recent history
4. Make informed judgments about the role of ideology, tradition, and power struggle in China's domestic policy making
5. Reflect on the historical precedent in interpreting China's contemporary politics


1. Introduction: "We the Chinese people have stood up"
2. The Civil War
Seminar 1: Sources of CCP legitimacy
3. Revolution and Transformation
4. Tibet and Xinjiang
Seminar 2: Liberation?
5. The Shock of 1956 and the "Hundred Flowers" Movement
6. Taming the Intellectuals
Seminar 3: Freedom and Class Conscience
7. The Great Leap to disaster
8. "Adjustment" and "revisionism"
Seminar 4: Counting the Human Toll
9. Cultural Revolution: the chaotic years
10. Lin Biao: from Triumph to Tragedy
Seminar 5: Revolution or Struggle for Power?
11. Mao's Death and the Gang of Four
12. Reform and Opening
Seminar 6: Roots of China's Success
13. Tian'anmen and its Aftermath
14. Crossing the River by Feeling Stones: China under Jiang and Hu
Seminar 7: China's Prospects

Brief description

This module offers an overview of Chinese history since the closing years of the Civil War through the early 2000s. The aim is to acquaint students with the most important developments in recent Chinese history, providing a solid background for understanding China's contemporary dilemmas and policy choices. The module explores the legitimacy discourse of the Chinese Communist Party, the relationship between revolution, modernization, nationalism and internationalism, and the interplay between ideology and power struggle. It discusses the reasons for, and the poignant consequences of "revolutionary" repressions, utopian economic schemes like the Great Leap Forward, suppression of intellectual dissent, and radicalism of the Cultural Revolution. The module shows how the Chinese leadership abandoned revolutionary discourse in favor of development, embracing "four modernizations" and opening China to the world. In doing so it delves into policy debates concerning socialism, modernity, and democratization. The module concludes with a broad sketch of China's alternative futures, and prospects for the survival of the current regime.


This module will add to the Department's teaching portfolio in International History and supplement modules on history and politics of emerging and post-communist countries. Furthermore, it will strengthen the Department's teaching programme in the field of contemporary Chinese history, politics and foreign policy, an area of increasing interest for scholars of International Relations. The module will be of interest to a wide range of students on all degree schemes and will significantly enhance the Department'r coverage of global politics outside the West.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of the essay will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 6