BA Chinese and Japanese

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Religious and Political Ideologies of Modern China

Unit code CHIN30311
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Chinese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit examines the religious and political history of China in the modern era from the early nineteenth century to the present day, exploring the role of major systems of thought, doctrine, and practice in the making of contemporary China. The People’s Republic of China is today one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, and Chinese societies around the globe operate in a multitude of political systems. The unit begins by looking at some of the foundational religious traditions of China, which were attacked for being backward and superstitious throughout the modern era, but which were actively revived and modernised by reformers to meet the challenges of the modern era. We then proceed to examine how some of the most important political ideologies of modernity, including Capitalism, Marxism, and Fascism, influenced the Chinese context and how they have shaped its modern history. Finally, we explore how these ideologies have continued to develop in the past few decades, what impact they have had on China’s development as a rising superpower, and address critical questions regarding their likely future in Chinese societies worldwide. In doing so we deepen our critical understanding of modern Chinese history, and of how different types of ideologies have shaped China today.


Available as Free Choice to students studying Religion and Theology

Available to students on an Erasmus programme 

Pre-requisites units: Introduction to Chinese Studies (CHIN10050) or equivalent strongly recommended 

Medium of language: English


  • Introduce students to the essentials of important religious and political ideologies that are relevant for modern and contemporary China;
  • Familiarise students with the core texts, sites, and events in the modern history of these ideologies;
  • Train students to be respectful of ideological differences, but to approach them critically and to question established popular narratives about their place in contemporary China;
  • To link the essential human questions that are at the core of religious and political ideologies to larger questions about human rights, cultural uniqueness, freedom of belief, and ecological futures.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Show familiarity with the most important religious and political ideologies in modern and contemporary China
  • Understand the core features of these ideologies and how they have developed over the past two centuries
  • Identify where these ideologies continue to play a role in contemporary Chinese societies

Intellectual skills

  • Assess academic and popular perspectives on ideological history against the context of their own critical approach
  • Approach the study of a religious or political system in a respectful but critical manner, and recognise worldviews sometimes vastly different from their own without necessarily supporting them
  • Discern the important role that the essential concerns at the heart of religious and political systems continue to play in Chinese societies today

Practical skills

  • Think independently and critically about matters relating to religion and politics
  • Be well-informed on these topics and be prepared to use this knowledge in intercultural discourse
  • Engage in critical discussions with peers and mentors on these topics

Assessment methods

Reading Journals - Formative 

Class Participation (Based on Seminar Attendance and Reading Jornal Submission) - 10%

Midterm Essay - 40%

Final Exam - 50 %


Re-sit Assessment - Essay (3000 words)

Feedback methods

  • Regular oral feedback during course meetings on reading journals 
  • Feedback on Essay
  • Feedback on Exam

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Gregory Scott Unit coordinator

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