Contemporary Chinese Society

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Module overview

What are the political and institutional underpinnings of China’s rise as a global power? How has the country’s rapid economic development shaped the social and cultural fabric of Chinese society? Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this module offers a critical overview of changes occurring in the late 20th century Chinese culture and society. It explores processes of change and continuity in the People’s Republic through various topics, including the rural-urban divide, women and migration, ethnic and racial discourses, cross-strait relations and Chinese internet culture.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear knowledge about the discourses dominating present-day Chinese culture and society.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of present-day China
  • Bibliographic research methods in relation to contemporary China
  • Successfully gain the cultural and societal knowledge for their year abroad


  • Total taught hours : 20 hours. 1 hours lecture and 1 hour seminar per week for 10 weeks.
  • Independent study : 130 hours
  • Total hours for module : 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

This module is designed to look at Chinese (popular) culture and society. Specific topics to be dealt with include:

  • Class in contemporary China
  • Changes of gender roles
  • The rural-urban divide
  • Identity and minority issues
  • Cross-strait relations and cyber nationalism

Method of assessment

  • Outline with bibliography (1,200 words) OR narrated powerpoint presentation (5 mins) 30%
  • Essay OR research proposal with annotated bibliography (2,500 words) 70%

Suggested reading

  • Jacka, Tamara. Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change. New York: Routledge, 2006.   
  • Kleinman, Arthur Kleinman. Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 
  • Lantham, Kevin. ed., Routledge Handbook of Chinese Culture and Society. London: Routledge, 2020. 
  • Liu, Jieyu.  Gender, Sexuality and Power in Chinese Companies: Beauties at Work. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 
  • Yang, Guobin. The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. New York: Columbia 
  • University Press, 2011. 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules