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.


  • 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
  • Migration and ethnicity in China
  • China and global governance

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 Final-year students only
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 Presentation (Assessed):  Delivered in small groups during seminars.  Three presentations per group, the first being formative and the second and third carrying equal weighting (10% each). Length of the presentations: 10 minutes. Marks are given to the groups, not individual members, although in extreme cases (non-attendance and/or failure to communicate with group members) the tutor may adjust the mark of individuals (20%)
Essay: 1500 to 2000 words, analysing a major aspect of Chinese culture or society or comparing selected aspects of Chinese and British cultures/societies.  To be submitted at the end of the term in which the module is taught or at the start of the following term. (20%)
Exam: Held in the Main Summer examination period, two hours in length. (60%)
Visiting students

Fully available to 'Full Year' and 'Lent & Summer' visiting students with suitable prior knowledge.

Not available to 'Michaelmas Only' students.

4 semester credits or 8 ECTS credits.

For further information contact Wei Shen.



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