China: The Long Twentieth Century

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
10 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module adopts multi-disciplinary perspectives to examine significant and complex issues in China's modern history. It serves as a gateway course to introduce students to an interdisciplinary approach to China and Chinese history.

Topics include the multiple meanings attached to the symbolic sites of: Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Global China Towns, the Bund, The Yellow River, Chinese Gardens, Parades, and the Three Gorges Dam.

We examine both fictional (including audiovisual) and scholarly materials that deal with the historical, political, social, and artistic aspects of these sites and phenomenon in order to understand modern China at its politico-cultural core, in its relations with the outside world, its symbolic function in the new global order as well as its path to modernization.

Module aims

This is a level 5 module for students with little background of Chinese History. The purpose of this module is to give students a good grounding in interpreting the key symbolic sites of China in a global context. It provides students with the analytical tools for thinking more deeply about the way such sites are infused with diverse, competing and evolving political and cultural meanings.

Module learning outcomes

At the successful completion of this module students will have developed a deeper understanding of modern China; have sharpened their analytical abilities; and have diversified their skills in ways of reading texts, locations and images.

Module information

For introductory reading, see:

Samuel S. Kim and Lowell Dittmer (1993), 'Wither China's Quest for National Identity?', in Dittmer & Kim, China's Quest for National Identity, pp. 268-289.

Benedict Anderson (2006) Imagine Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, pp. 163- 206.

Louie, Kam (2008) 'Defining Modern Chinese Culture,” in Kam Louie (ed.) Modern Chinese Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Waldron, Arthur (1990) “The Wall Acquires New Meanings.” in The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 194-226.

Spence, Jonathan, The Search For Modern China (2013, Third Edition).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Short writing exercise (1000 words)    35% 
Coursework   Essay (3000 words)    60% 
Practical   Class participation    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Xun Zhou, email:
Dr Xun Zhou
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Rachel Rich
Leeds Beckett University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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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