Module Outline


This module aims to provide the students with a comprehensive introduction to contemporary China from political, social, and cultural perspectives. China’s socio-political trajectory over the 20th Century will be discussed first to provide a historical context, before the students are introduced to a range of topics pertaining to China today, including rural-urban divide, domestic migration, family, work and employment, education, ethnic politics/policy, religion, civil society and international relations. Documentary videos will be used throughout the course to make for a lively learning experience.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, the students

  • should have obtained a broad-brush understanding of the contemporary Chinese society;
  • should have clearer ideas about some of the most important social and political events in recent history that shaped today’s China;
  • should have gained greater insights into one particular aspect of the Chinese society or a specific contemporary social phenomenon/problem through writing an essay; and
  • should be able to articulate their knowledge in concise and good writing.


The module consists of 13 weekly 3-hour lecture sessions (including two by guest lecturers). Active class participation is required.

Final module grades will be calculated based on three components:

1. Class participation (10%)

Documentary videos will be screened during most class sessions to assist students’ learning. On five such occasions chosen at the discretion of the course coordinator, the students will be asked to write a short response to the documentary video and submit it on spot. Each of these five written responses carries 2% of the final course mark. (Produce MC or other documentation if there are legitimate reasons for your absence.)

2. Essay (20%)

Each student is to produce a 2000-word (+/- 10% in length incurs no penalty) individual essay, to be submitted both through TURNITIN (NTULearn) and in hardcopy, no later than 23 March, Wednesday. Late submission will not be entertained.

3. Final Exam (70%)

The final exam will be a 2-hour Restricted Open Book paper (27 April 2016).It comprises short answer questions that cover all the topics in the course. One A-4 size paper, with handwritten (and handwritten ONLY) notes on both sides, may be brought into the exam hall.

  • Every week, there is usually one or two pieces of background reading.  These are basic and compulsory, and students should have completed reading them before coming to the relevant lecture session.
  • Occasionally, extended readings are suggested; while these are not compulsory, students are encouraged to read them for their own benefit;
  • Students are also encouraged to make full use of the additional resources provided (including many entertaining documentaries and useful readings), especially for seeking inspiration for the essay assignment.


CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)

Week 1 (13 Jan) Introduction
Week 2 (20 Jan) Background (1): the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Week 3 (27 Jan) Background (2): from Revolution to Reform
Week 4 (3 Feb) China’s “rural problem”; hukou and danwei systems; domestic migration and urbanization
Week 5 (10 Feb) GUEST SESSION China’s strategic and political challenges: food security, the South China Sea Disputes and One Belt One Road (Mr Zhang Hongzhou, Associate Research Fellow, RSIS, NTU)
Week 6 (17 Feb) State-Society Relation; Civil Society and NGOs
Week 7 (24 Feb) Family and Marriage; 
Week 8 (9 Mar) Education and Work 
Week 9 (16 Mar) GUEST SESSION  The Changing Landscape of Contemporary Chinese Art and Culture (Ms Yang Wei, PhD Candidate, NTU; MA CUHK)
Week 10 (23 Mar) Ethnicities and Ethnic Policy; (ESSAY DUE; submit hard copy during class; submit electronically through Turnitin by midnight)
Week 11 (30 Mar) Religions and religiosity
Week 12 (6 Apr) China since Xi Jinping
Week 13 (13 Apr) Conclusion and collective consultation session