CHIN310: Chinese Culture and Society

Course description

This module aims to provide students with a general knowledge of the key aspects, both historical and contemporary, of modern Chinese culture and society. Particular emphasis will be placed on China’s economic and socio-political developments, and on understanding the Chinese way of thinking and living so that students will have more confidence if they work in or with China, or interact with the Chinese from the greater China region in their future careers. The weekly teaching consists of an hourly lecture and an hourly seminar.

Aims and objectives

Students will gain:

  • an extended knowledge and critical understanding of key aspects of contemporary China and the necessary linguistic and cultural competence and skills for communicating with the Chinese;
  • a critical awareness and ability to research into key socio-cultural issues in China.

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • be able to demonstrate a practical knowledge about major aspects of modern China and an understanding of the key aspects of Chinese culture and society, including China’s major historical periods;
  • have a cultural awareness and basic understanding of cultural differences and barriers in interacting with Chinese as well as adequate intercultural skills so as to communicate across cultures competently.


  • An overview of Chinese culture and society
  • Imperial China and the fall of the Qing dynasty
  • China under Mao and since 1978
  • China’s politics and international relationships
  • China’s economy
  • Classic Chinese philosophies and their influence
  • China’s ethnic groups and languages
  • Intercultural communication with the Chinese

Recommended reading

De Mente, Boye Lafayette (2000) The Chinese Have a Word for It: The Complete Guide to Chinese Thought and Culture. McGraw-Hill Contemporary
Dillon, Michael (2007) Contemporary China: An Introduction. London: Routledge.
Gittings, John (1999) China through the Sliding Door. London: Touchstone.Itoh,
Fumio, ed. (1997) China in the Twenty-First Century: Politics, Economy and Society. New York: United Nations University Press.
Liu, Shuang, Zala Volcic and Cindy Gallois (2011) Introducing Intercultural Communication. Thousand Oaks: Sage
Louie, Kam (2008) The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mackerras C. and K. Bucknall (2001) The New Cambridge Handbook of Contemporary China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ng, Tai P and Eng, Wah Won Ng M (2007) Chinese Culture, Western Culture: How Cross-Cultural Views of History, Philosophy and Human Relationships Will Change Modern Global Society.
Patten, Chris (1999) East and West. Kent: Pan Books.
Perry Link et al. (eds.) (1989) Unofficial China: Popular Culture and Thought in the People's Republic. Boulder: Westview.
Perry, E. and M. Selden (2003) Chinese Society, Change, Conflict and Resistance. London: Routledge.
Roberts, J.A.G. (2006) A History of China (Palgrave Essential Histories Series) (2nd edition). Palgrave Macmillan.
Scott, David (2007) China Stands Up: The PRC and the International System. London: Routledge
Tubilewicz, Czeslaw (2006) Critical Issues in Contemporary China. London: Routledge.
Weatherley, Robert (2006) Politics in China Since 1949: Legitimizing Authoritarian Rule. London: Routledge.
Zang, Xiaowei (ed,) (2011) Understanding Chinese Society. London: Routledge
Zhang, Dainian (2002) Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy. Yale and Beijing: Foreign Language Press  Yale University Press.

Key Facts

Credits 15
Terms taught 2
Restrictions None
Compulsory for Students on the following programmes must take this course in their second year:

English Language with Chinese; Linguistics with Chinese; French with Chinese, German with Chinese, Spanish with Chinese; Politics with Chinese; Philosophy with Chinese; Religion with Chinese.
Prerequisites None
Assessment One essay (40%), plus a two-hour written exam (60%).  The exam is taken in the summer term.
Visiting students
Full Year (October to June) or Lent & Summer Only (January to June)
4 semester credits or 8 ECTS credits.



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