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BA Politics and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Chinese Politics

Unit code POLI30181
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The “Rise of China” as a political and economic power is one of the most frequently discussed political narratives of the last 20 years. A country with the size of the United States, the world’s largest population, and its second largest economy, China is undoubtedly an important force in current geopolitics. However, much of the popular discussion of Chinese politics relies on broad generalization, depicting China variously as the unstoppable power of the 21st century, or as teetering on the edge of coming economic and sociopolitical collapse. As we near the midpoint of the leadership of Xi Jinping, the most ambitious and charismatic Chinese ruler since Mao, what can we say about the current state of China’s political system? What are the defining issues of Chinese politics today, and what do they suggest about its future? Most importantly, what can close examination of China’s political system teach us about politics generally?


This course provides a comprehensive introduction to Chinese politics. It begins with a historical examination of the founding of the contemporary People’s Republic of China. We begin by examining the fall of Imperial China, and fully exploring the political history of 20th century China, emphasizing the half century since “Liberation” in 1949. How should we understand Maoism and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s? What are the legacies of the Beijing Spring of 1989? Who have been the winners and losers in the last three decades of “reform and opening”? 


In the second half of the course, we examine current topics in Chinese politics. By looking at topics like environmentalism, labor rights, urbanization, ethnic politics, youth movements, women’s rights, and economic policy, we will attempt to draw a complete, nuanced picture of China in the age of Xi, and understand what the country’s future holds.

Knowledge and understanding

Student should be able to


Knowledge and Understanding: 

  • Critically describe the guiding ideologies and institutions of the current People’s Republic of China
  • Assess and analyse the means by which the PRC’s policies impact Chinese society in a variety of areas (environmental, economic, socio-cultural, etc.)
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the development of the Chinese government and theories of current social organization

Intellectual skills

Intellectual skills: 

  • Assess the institutional format of the Chinese government and its role in regulating Chinese society
  • Analyse the impact of social phenomena on the policies developed by the Chinese state in response

Practical skills

Practical skills: 

  • Critically engage with academic literature on Chinese politics and contemporary Chinese society
  • Discuss and debate the current topics in Chinese government and society with their peers
  • Write and edit podcasts on aspects of Chinese politics for a public audience

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Transferable skills and personal qualities:  

  • Greater awareness of Chinese politics
  • Enhanced analytical skills
  • Increased ability to debate complex ideas with colleagues
  • Increased experience in communicating vital information in Chinese politics in brief to a general, non-academic audience

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%
Set exercise 20%

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Stroup Unit coordinator

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