Contemporary Chinese Society (PG)

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
China and Inner Asia Section

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:

  1. Identify the range of approaches related to the field of Chinese Studies.
  2. Critically discuss the main discourses dominating present day Chinese culture and society.
  3. Apply multi-disciplinary methods and theories.
  4. Analyse a wide range of evidence and materials, including statistics, historical documents, newspapers, books and academic journals.
  5. Design an interdisciplinary research project that contributes to the field of Chinese Studies.


  • Total taught hours: 20 hours. 1 hour of 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:

  1. changes of gender roles
  2. challenges of an ageing society
  3. identity and minority issues
  4. cross-strait relations

Method of assessment

Reaction paper (1,000 words) 25%
Essay (2,500- 3,000 words) 75%

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