Students will choose two option papers. Please note that from 2013/14 there will no longer be a language option on the MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies. Applicants who wish to take Chinese language as part of the formal programme, are encouraged to look instead at the MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies.
Other option papers currently offered include the following: (Please note that the list of options offered each year is subject to change).
- China's Economic Reforms
This course offers an introduction to key issues in China’s economic development since economic reforms began nearly three decades ago. Emphasis is placed on the political economy of economic reform and the current challenges facing the Chinese economy.
- History and Historiography of Modern China
This course focuses on modern Chinese History, considering topics such as the collapse of the late Qing (students might consider through their essays questions like how important was opium to the collapse of the Qing dynasty? or could the Qing state have coped better with internal rebellion?), the May Fourth Movement (Why were May Fourth reformers so interested in ideas of science and democracy?), the rise of Communism (How important was the peasant revolution to the Communist victory?), China at war (How did the war against Japan change Chinese society?), and the cultural revolution (Was the Cultural Revolution ultimately about power, not ideology?).
- The Politics and Government of China
This option provides a broad introduction to the political history and development, political sociology, political ideologies and institutions, and the political economy of China. Students will have the opportunity, further, to read and consider a number of alternative approaches to conceptualizing, modelling, and analyzing Chinese politics.
- China's Environmental Challenges
This course option will explore China’s environmental challenges, from tackling deforestation and desertification to controlling greenhouse-gas emissions, and the major governmental and civic responses to these issues – from green regulations and technological fixes, to NGO movements and urban protests. The course will draw on a variety of source materials in order to consider the historical, social, technological and political dynamics of China’s ecological situation and how can we understand their complex interactions. Ultimately, we consider how a deeper grasp of the environmental situation might affect our understanding of China's state and society.
- The International Relations of Contemporary China
This course option will explore China’s evolving role in the international political and economic system and will examine the country’s external relations with key state, non-state, and institutional actors. No prior knowledge of China or the East Asian region will be assumed. The programme will lay emphasis on an empirically-led but theoretically informed analysis of the extent and character of China’s interrelationships within international relations, so as to be able to better understand how geopolitical interactions overlap with specific policy priorities to shape outcomes at the regional and global levels.
- Chinese Fiction after Tiananmen
This course explores Chinese literary practice in the era of market reforms, taking 1989 as its point of departure. We read a wide range of novels and short stories in English translation, complemented by extensive reading in English-language scholarship. The course investigates the various forms that fictional writing has assumed in China over the last twenty years – from radically avant-garde to highly populist, and from conventional print media to internet literature – and it analyses the ways in which China’s transition from a revolutionary society to one orientated decisively towards the market has changed the shape and function of Chinese writing.
- Regional China: Central Places, Borderlands and Spaces In Between
This course option examines the significance of place and space to our understanding of modern China.
Geography has been more influential in Chinese studies than in most area studies. This is partly reflects the importance of spatial distinctions to Chinese political and cultural traditions. The imperial Chinese state exerted control through prefectures and counties, the territorial domain of kitchen gods is strictly defined, and Chinese revolutionaries conceived of their task as a geographic manoeuvre of the countryside encircling the cities. It is also reflects the contribution of particular scholars, and through the work of G. William Skinner geographic terms such as central places, macroregions and cores and peripheries pepper the literature.
This course starts with a survey of traditional Chinese and Soviet understandings of Chinese space. It then proceeds to an examination of the standard market town, the subject of a rich tradition of village studies and the starting point of Skinner’s spatial theories. This is followed by a systematic exposition of the geographic concepts and research methods developed by Skinner from the 1960s to his death in 2008. The course concludes by looking at several topics in contemporary China through a geographic lens: religion and ethnicity, the Communist mass campaign as exemplified by the Great Leap Forward and the Strike Hard campaign of 1983, and further topics relating to the research interests of students in the class.
- State and Society in Contemporary China
This course option will undertake a critical analysis of the modern structures of state and society in contemporary China. It will engage with the theoretical debates and empirical research that explore the intricacies of institutional interactions by examining government and private enterprise relationships, and government and NGO relationships. Moreover, the course will critically analyse the interactions and behaviour of micro-level actors such as ethnic minorities, migrant workers and women. By engaging with the course’s discourse and the various modes of analysis we will come to see state and society as contested spaces for power and authority in contemporary China.
Other disciplines with agreement of the Course Director.