H120 The Confucian World

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

This module introduces students to the History of the part of the world that was profoundly influenced by the Chinese cultural sphere. Chronologically it covers the period from early state formation and the rise of the first unified empires, through diversification and the social and political transformations in the middle period, to the early modern empires and the late nineteenth-century reforms. Students will engage with the ideological foundations and the social, economic and political structures that supported the expanding states, their relationships with neighbours, Korea, Japan, and the peoples of Inner Asia in particular, and the introduction of new systems of belief and knowledge and the challenges and innovations that came with it. Finally we will explore Neo-Confucianism as the political orthodoxy of the later dynasties and the revolutionary transformations that marked its end.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. Identify and explain the significance of key events, developments and concepts in the history of the China and its neighbours from the period of early state formation to the nineteenth-century modernising reforms.
  2. Understand, analyse and discuss primary and secondary sources.
  3. Critically engage with relevant historiographical debates.
  4. Present clear, reasoned arguments in oral and written form.

Method of assessment

  • Source Analysis (AS1) of 750 words - worth 30%
  • Essay (AS2) of 2,000 words - worth 70%

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).


Andrea Janku


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