SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Economic problems and policies in modern China

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year
The orientation of this course is towards China’s economic development in the period of the People’s Republic (1949 to the present day). Consideration is given to important phases of China’s post-1949 development trajectory, including the periods of the First Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward and its aftermath, the Cultural Revolution and post-1978 economic reforms. The lectures provide detailed analysis of important areas of policy-making, including population change, employment, agricultural and industrial development, enterprise reform, the financial sector, foreign trade and foreign investment, and consumption and living standards. The course has a very contemporary thrust, and treatment of all major issues is brought down to the present day.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Analyse the impact of changes brought about by important areas of policy making in post-1949 China on different sectors such as population, agriculture, industry, finance and trade.
  • Describe the political history that underlays the economic  development of China under the Peoples Republic.
  • Discuss and contrast the effects on economic development of the first Five Year Plans, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the post-1978 reforms.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / coursework 30%. (2 essays of 15% each). All coursework is resubmittable.

Suggested reading

  • Bramall, Chris, Chinese Economic Development, London, Routledge, 2009.
  • Naughton, Barry, The Chinese Economy, Cambridge MA, MIT Press, 2007.
  • Brandt, Loren and Rawski, Thomas G. (eds.), China's Great Economic Transformation, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2008.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules