SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H120 The Confucian World

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

Pathways: East Asia; Third World. 

This course offers an overview of the histories of China, Korea and Japan. It is designed to introduce students to methodological aspects of the study of history in general and to provide the chronological framework of the East Asian region. The course thus serves as a basis for students wishing to continue to study aspects of East Asian history at Intermediate and Advanced level. The course will encompass the entire development of East Asia's civilisations, although the emphasis will be on the early modern and modern periods. Thematic problems will be pursued from the start in order to encourage a critical engagement with the issues raised in tutorials, essays and projects.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The course will provide an introduction to the history of East Asia and to a broad range of historical methodologies, as a preparation for more advanced study of the region.

Students will acquire the following academic and transferable skills:

  • Critique: to analyze arguments, identify intellectual assumptions and rhetorical strategies; to evaluate the use of evidence in appropriate context.
  • Problem-solving: to identify unexamined questions, suggest possible answers, and determine relevant evidence.
  • Research: to design a manageable project and develop library skills in finding and processing relevant material.
  • Analysis: to collate information, conduct critical analysis, and develop structured arguments.
  • Communication: to participate in group discussions and collective development of analysis; to present reasoned arguments in both oral and written form.

Method of assessment

Exam (worth 50%), Assignment 1 of 2,000 words (worth 20%) Assignment 2 of 2,500 words (worth 30%)

Suggested reading

  • Cohen, W., East Asia at the Center (New York, 2000).
  • Ebrey, P. et al., East Asia: A Cultural, Social and Political History (Boston, 2006).
  • Goldman, M. et al., eds, Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia (Cambridge, Mass., 2000)
  • Holcombe, Ch., The Genesis of East Asia, 221 BC - AD 907 (Honolulu, 2001).
  • Schirokauer, C. et al., Modern Asia: A Brief History (Boston, 2008).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules