China and international politics

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

[formerly known as Foreign Relations of the People's Republic of China]

This module seeks to examine  the foreign policy and international relations of the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) addressing how and why China has reached its status within the international system today.  Aside from providing students with a detailed analysis of key issues and events in China’s foreign relations, throughout the module we will pay attention to how China’s foreign policy relates to international relations theories.

The first half of the module is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of key issues, trends and events in China’s international relations from the 19th Century to the present day. The sessions during the first part of the module will examine topics such as the Chinese view of the world order, the demise of the Qing empire, foreign policies of the Republican period, the PRC’s decision to enter the Korean War, the rise and fall of Sino-Soviet alliance, etc. The second half of the module will address thematic issues of relevance to the contemporary foreign policy of the PRC; these include the debate over the rise of China, China’s growing involvement in international regimes, China and global security, China’s role in the global economy, Sino-U.S. relations, China and Africa, issues of human rights, environment and Taiwan, etc.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the course students will have the following:

  • deepen their understanding of the key historical issues pertaining to the evolution of China’s relations with the rest of the world;
  • develop advanced analytical skills;
  • develop the ability to employ political science and international relations theories and frameworks to analyse issues pertaining to China and international politics.


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

Method of assessment

Assessment is 30% Coursework (comprising one 3000 word essays), Presentation 10% and 60% unseen examination.

Suggested reading

Selected readings:

  • Samuel S. Kim (ed.) China and the World: Chinese Foreign Relations in the Post- Cold War Era 4th edition (Westview, 1998)
  • Shaun Breslin (ed) Handbook of Chinese International Relations (Routledge, 2010) (electronic version via SOAS library website)
  • David M. Lampton (ed.) The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Reform Era, 1978-2000 (Stanford, 2001)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules