Module Catalogue 2023/24

CHN2004 : Contemporary Chinese Society: Issues and Challenges

CHN2004 : Contemporary Chinese Society: Issues and Challenges

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jo Smith Finley
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



1) To provide an introduction to the concepts and norms of traditional social structure in imperial China;
2) To situate contemporary social problems in China against a backdrop of dramatic historial transformations occuring during the Republican, Maoist and Reform eras;
3) To consider the potential impacts of both domestic policies and global currents on the future evolution of Chinese society.

Outline Of Syllabus

Module Talk (Introduction)

Topic 1. Individual, Family and Society
Topic 2. Woman
Topic 3. Population and Fertility
Topic 4. The Environment
Topic 5. The Rural-Urban Divide
Topic 6. Internal Migration
Topic 7. Social Inequality

Essay planning workshop

Topic 8. Ethnicity
Topic 9. Religion
Topic 10. The Chinese Internet
Topic 11. Human Rights

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1) An awareness of the concepts and norms of traditional social structure in imperial China
2) An understanding of a range of social problems in contemporary China
3) An ability to situate those social problems against a backdrop of dramatic historial transformations occuring during the Republican, Maoist, and Reform eras
4) An awareness of the potential impacts of domestic policies and global currents on the future evolution of Chinese society

Intended Skill Outcomes

1) The ability to employ traditional concepts and norms to interpret social structure in imperial China
2) The ability to analyse a range of social problems in contemporary China
3) The ability to situate those social problems against the backdrop of recent dramatic historical transformations
4) The ability to predict how domestic policies and global currents may impact on the future evolution of Chinese society

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Online, non-synchronous
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Online, non-synchronous: Lecture Powerpoint
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Present-in-person: Discussion and Q and A on Lecture materials (PPT viewed in advance)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities51:005:00Online, non-synchronous: 1 x short blog piece 1 x podcast / video
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Present-in-person: Seminar (Discourse Analysis)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Present-in-person: Essay planning workshop
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1371:00137:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Present-in-person
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Pre-reading, in the form of short, online blog pieces written by China scholars and experts, and/or viewing of short podcasts and videos, stimulate students’ initial interest in each lecture topic.

Online lecture materials (Powerpoints) then guide students in developing a critical awareness of social structure in imperial China; in situating contemporary social challenges against their historical backdrop; and in considering the potential impact of domestic policies and global currents in the future evolution of Chinese society. Most PPTs begin by exploring traditional social concepts and norms prevalent in Imperial China. Social trends and transformations occurring during the Republican and Maoist periods are then outlined, before going on to consider related social issues and challenges in China today. Students take an initial look at the PPT ahead of class, and then meet in person with the Lecturer to discuss what they have learned, and take part in Q and A.

An in-person Essay planning workshop is designed to counsel students on how to research material, analyse sources critically, and plan, structure and present their arguments.

Small-group, in-person seminars, held on campus, encourage students to further explore the lecture themes through research, reading and discourse analysis, focused on carefully selected texts and audiovisual media (images and videos) related to the 11 lecture topics. Research and reading can be conducted independently or in small groups with student peers, in order to foster both individual initiative and teamwork.

NOTE: This module will be delivered in blended mode: 33% online and 67% present in person. The blended learning mode of teaching was previously shown to be effective, since it allowed students to first read up, research and reflect on topics independently in their own time, then meet with the lecturer and one another face to face to discuss, debate, and ask follow-up questions.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M70An Essay of 2500-2800 words (including quotations and footnotes but excluding bibliographies).
Written exercise2M30Critical Commentary (1200 words) on single text chosen from 3 options, each reflecting a different topic or combination of topics
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MWritten commentary on a document chosen from choice of four,each relating to one of the Lecture topics. Formative feedback provided.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module will be assessed by:

One formative assessment:
- a Critical Commentary of 1200 words on a single text chosen from three options. The student will analyse and discuss core themes relating to the lecture topic – or combination of lecture topics – covered in that text. This exercise encourages independent critical thinking and processing of different types of document, including those from government, NGO, media and academic sources.

One summative assessment:
- an Essay of 2500-2800 words (70%), demonstrating knowledge of taught aspects of Chinese society as well as the ability to critically analyse social themes. There will be a choice of essay questions covering the 11 lecture themes.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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