The Politics of Modern China

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
03 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module focuses on the politics of the People's Republic of China, with an emphasis on the contemporary effects of the political and economic transitions that occurred during the Reform Era. The purpose of the module is to provide a working knowledge and critical lens for understanding how and why political events and change are occurring in modern China. This module highlights a comparative approach to Chinese politics that seeks to understand how the Chinese case can inform and be informed by existing empirical methods and theories of politics and government.

The first portion of the module covers an introduction to China's historical background, the structure of political institutions and governance, overview of China's population, and its market systems. The second portion of the module examines the causes and consequences of two defining policy decisions – the one-child policy and the state's response to mass internal migration -- which have led to broader challenges facing Chinese society.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

A. To provide students with a solid foundation of knowledge about the modern Chinese political, economic, and social system.

B. To engage with a wide range of applied empirical material relating to the political system, specific policy adoptions, and state-societal relations in modern China.

C. To present a range of contemporary societal and policy challenges in China, which are discussed both from a theoretical point of view and an empirical perspective.

D. To distinguish the effectiveness of state-sponsored policies in combatting social conflict in China.

Module learning outcomes

By following this module, students will gain the following skills:

By following this module, students will gain the following skills:
A. Identify and employ appropriate material that contains required information and data.
B. Synthesize the obtained information to use it for relevant purposes (e.g., essays and discussions).
C. Formulate arguments clearly and coherently in both written and oral forms.
D. Explore complex social, economic, and political challenges and analyze their main characteristics, determinants, and consequences.

Module information

Weekly topics:
1. Chinese historical trends and influences
2. China's political institutions and actors
3. The structure of China's economy
4. The composition of Chinese society
5. Origins and application of the One-Child Policy
6. Demographic and societal effects of the One-Child Policy
7. Conflicts over policy implementation: challenges to revising the One-Child Policy
8. Origins and early stages of internal migration
9. Later stages of internal migration
10. Conflicts over policy implementation: challenges facing an economy built on internal migration

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered with (i) a weekly pre-recorded lecture and (ii) a weekly interactive lecture. The pre-recorded lecture will consist of one or more items of prepared content that students can access electronically and must study before the interactive lecture. The interactive lecture will consist of one 50-minute lecture in which students can ask questions about, and discuss various aspects of, the prepared content with the module supervisor.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    35% 
Coursework   Essay 2    65% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Sarah Shair-Rosenfield, email: s.shairrosenfield@essex.ac.uk.
Sarah Shair-Rosenfield
Dr Shair-Rosenfield s.shairrosenfield@essex.ac.uk Administrator Sallyann West govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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