SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Government and politics of China

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

This course will impart a solid grounding in the dynamic evolution of the Chinese state and Chinese nationalism, China's self-identified problems of weakness and underdevelopment, the difficult choices made by political elites over the course of three quite different regimes of the 20th and 21st century (Republic, revolutionary People's Republic, reformist People's Republic and the brief inclusion of post-1949 Taiwan as a comparative referent). Throughout the academic year, this course will stress how this legacy offers both the opportunity and constraint for the present politics of China.

The first term will concentrate on the background and political trajectory of politics in the late imperial, Republican and revolutionary People's Republic. The second term concentrates on politics in the 1990s and 2000s, focussing on politics in different sectors (the impact of globalization, rural China, urban reform), and special policy arenas (environment, public health and the perennial question of corruption and poor governance), before concluding with sessions on democratization in Taiwan and China's own limited experiments with village democracy.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge of key themes of continuity and change in Chinese politics from the Republican period to the present
  • an understanding of the key problems of governance in a state as large and complex as China
  • critical written and oral assessment of core themes in the course and the ability to make a sustained analytical argument about said core themes


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assessment is 60% examination and 40% coursework. Coursework is resubmissable.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules