BASS Social Anthropology and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Intimate Geopolitics of Global China

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI31021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course aims to examine the historical, political, social and cultural construction of borders in contemporary China (the focus is on the People’s Republic of China) from a critical perspective. A critical perspective in the context of this module means interrogating borders beyond their traditional territorial meaning. Students will engage with the recent research across a range of disciplinary and intellectual traditions, including Chinese Studies, International Relations, International Political Sociology, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, and Migration Studies. The course will stimulate questioning the organisation of Chinese political and cultural space through familiarisation with and understanding of its bordering practices and the ways they create inequalities and impact identities, belonging and citizenship. Throughout the course the students will gain a greater understanding of how political power works to construct and shape borders around and within Chinese society, marginal sites and groups, the relations between majority and minority groups through the dialogical logic of exclusion and inclusion along the markers of ethnicity, gender, class, race, religion, and culture. In particular, the conceptual links between borders and identities, gender, race, family, population and citizenship, and the processes of migration, mobility, diasporic formations, border-crossing, and internal migration will be examined. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

  • To understand, compare, and evaluate scholarly approaches to bordering practices, processes and discourses in contemporary China 

  • To understand and discuss conceptual links between visual and text-based analyses of China’s border politics.  

  • Outline and discuss how critically engaging with bordering practices is significant to understanding Chinese politics and society. 

  • Have a robust knowledge and ability to critically analyse Chinese citizenship, majority-minority relations, the role of ethnicity, race and class 

  • Develop an informed and independent view on how borders work to structure and organise Chinese politics and society. 

Teaching and learning methods

A variety of learning methods are used in the course, which include: 

  • Interactive lectures and seminars; 

  • Whole group, small group and individual teaching and learning; 

  • Student-led and tutor-led session 

  • Discussion-based and knowledge-based classes 

Teaching and learning methods are designed to: 

  • Meet the aims and objectives of the course and degree programme; 

  • Foster knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject

  • Stimulate engagement and ownership of the learning process; 

  • Encourage deep learning by students; 

  • Develop a strong knowledge based course material through a wide range of methods including critical reading and analysis of text-based and visual materials; 

  • Foster independent research using both primary and secondary sources; 

  • Enable seminar-based discussion for communicating ideas and presenting ideas in a variety of formats; 

  • Take proactive account of the different circumstances and needs of students, facilitating wider participation

Assessment methods

Essay - 3,000 words 75%

Group Project (2-3 students per group, depending on the class size). – 25% (20 min presentation and a written copy 1000 words) will involve a critical analysis of a particular Chinese law/political campaign/policy/propaganda/film produced by the PRC government or a PRC citizen. The students will be asked to  
research and prepare an overview of their selected case by exploring the following  

  • What are the origins of your selected case?  

  • Who is it aimed at?  

  • What are its aims?  

  • How is it implemented?  
    What are its effects?  

  • What roles do gender, class, race, religion, ethnicity play in it?  

  • What is the response of the public to this case?  



Feedback methods


Students will receive written feedback on all assessed coursework and get face to face feedback in tutorials/seminars. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

Recommended reading

' Agnew, John (2003) Geopolitics: Re-visioning World Politics, 2nd Ed. London: Routledge.
- Salter, Mark B (2003) Rights of Passage: the Passport in International Relations. London: Lynne Reiner Publishers.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elena Barabantseva Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks


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