Module Catalogue 2023/24

CHN4012 : Historical and Cultural Interpretations of China through classics and newspaper reading

CHN4012 : Historical and Cultural Interpretations of China through classics and newspaper reading

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fang Su
  • 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

This module is not suitable for exchange students who are native speakers of Chinese. The module is suitable for students with evidence of HSK 4 and above.

The module is designed to give an overview on Chinese history, culture, society and politics through reading authentic Chinese texts with a view for students who are back from their Year Abroad and in their final year to further improve their language skills. Exchange students from EU countries should have language skills of HSK 4 and above.


Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment

Students taking this module should be registered on either Level C or Level D Chinese.


1) To introduce a solid overview on Chinese history, culture, society and politics through the classics, newspaper and relevant publications reading.
2) To build up academic vocabularies in a more systematic manner, and develop skills of processing and analysing information.
3) To learn expression differences between the colloquial and literary, between the classical and idiomatic, between different social levels and different educational and cultural backgrounds.
4) To understand the Chinese language, Chinese customs and culture, current social issues in China and society through different viewpoints and different angles.
5) To introduce the different genres of Classical Chinese texts such as Confucius, Tang Poetry and Song Lyrics.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module provides students with an interdisciplinary interpretation of Chinese culture, history, politics, economics and society, by engaging them in the reading of authentic Chinese texts from classics, newspaper and relevant publications. It will focus on three aspects, coving 1) Chinese Culture and Traditions; 2) Philosophy and Religions and 3) Modernization and Globalization.

The Chinese Culture and Traditions focuses mainly on Tang Poetry, Song Lyrics and certain Contemporary literatures; and the Imperial system, Imperial exam system and Traditional Chinese family. Students are encouraged to read extensively about certain poets’ life and their inspiring and creative writings. The Philosophy and Religions covers the development of Daoism, Confucianism and wide range of popular and local religions. Students are expected to explore the development of key philosophical and religious doctrines as well as associated practices from historical perspective. By studying the Modernization and Globalization texts, students are expected to critically evaluate policy-relevant discussions of China’s current state of and prospects for modernisation and challenges of globalization.

The module will be divided into 11 sessions including 10 weeks of teaching sessions and last week of consultation session in the second semester. Every week students will have three scheduled teaching hours (2 hours lecture and 1-hour seminar). The first week provides a historical, cultural and social background to the module by introducing the characteristics of classical and contemporary Chinese literatures and society. All the themes in the subsequent sessions are designed to help students to understand Chinese culture, traditions, customs and religions through reading authentic Chinese texts. Students are expected to participate actively in class and online, prepare before class and do the follow-up work individually, in pairs or a small group in order to develop skills in reading, speaking, writing, understanding, analysing and using the academic language.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module, the students will gain:

- A knowledge and understanding of literary cultures in China.
- A basic knowledge of essential reference materials and of critical concepts relevant to the analysis of literature.
- A solid overview on the historical, social, cultural and political contexts through the classics, newspaper and relevant publications reading.
- An awareness and understanding of the expression in the context of the language and the expression differences between the colloquial and literary, between the classical and idiomatic, between different social levels and different educational and cultural backgrounds.
- A wider knowledge and deeper understanding of both elite culture and folk culture, but also current social issues in China and society.
- Insight into the key issues explored in China’s development, mainly focusing on such as culture, tradition, customs, religions and political and educational systems, etc.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

- Analyse in detail Chinese literary texts and to discuss them with reference to the various contexts in which they were produced.
- Build the linguistic proficiency, through learning classical idiomatic expression; and facilitate their internalization of the new materials.
- Interpret through combining cognitive concepts and historical and cultural elements with language skills.
- Use the target language with improved accuracy and extensity.
- Develop their competencies in conducting oral and written communication in a variety of topics at the discourse level.
- Demonstrate an ability to work individually in researching, synthesizing, and preparing for seminars and written course work.
- Operate effectively as part of a team, contributing to group discussion or class presentation.
- Strengthen students' skills in research and essay writing based on Chinese-language primary and secondary sources.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:002 hours present in person.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Student-led seminar.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Presentation preparation and essay surgery.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1451:00145:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

All sessions are designed as a 2-hours survey lecture (present in person) followed by a 1-hour student-led seminar.

1)       Lectures provide students with an interdisciplinary introduction to key themes related to the study of Chinese culture, history, politics, religions and society.
2)       Each lesson begins with a general introduction on the topic of classics reading, and several supplementary texts from newspaper on hot cultural topics and current affairs are provided to enhance the conduction of classroom interactions and small-group discussions.
3)       Each text followed by exercises in vocabulary, grammar, reading, translation and idiomatic expressions is to reinforce students’ understandings of the texts at the discourse level.
4)       Each topic offers a motivational source in developing students’ language skills, and uses authentic language materials and considers different literary genres. Included in the text are pre-reading questions and after-reading questions in each lesson.
5)       The following seminar provides an opportunity for students to discuss and to present arguments in an appropriate fashion independently and within a team, and chair an ensuing collaborative discussion with the class. Formative feedback will be provided by the lecturer.
6)       Students are expected to read and analyse the Chinese-language primary and secondary sources.

The three surgery sessions allow students to seek advice on coursework requirements. Workshops on how to do a presentation and write an academic essay will be scheduled as part of the lectures.

This module is taught and assessed in both Chinese and English,and assessed in English.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152M20Module leader will confirm if this is an individual or group presentation depending on numbers registered for module.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A80An essay of 2,500 words. The language of assessment is English. A choice of research themes will be provided.
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
Essay2MPractice essay plan. 500 words. Feedback in consultation hours in Week 11.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module assessment will have three components, two assessed and one formative.

The oral presentation and ensuing discussion, which take place at every student-led seminar from Week 4, aim to test 1) students' skills in understanding and analysing through reading authentic materials during independent learning and group discussion in class, 2) and skills in presenting a coherent in a defined time period, 3) and their leadership ability in taking charge in peer discussion. These are also important transferable skills that students can develop during the module.

The assessed essay of 2,500 words at the end of the module evaluates students’ development of transferable skills, including independent research and critical analysis, argument planning, organising, word-processing, footnoting and referencing and bibliographical work. A choice of research questions as well as lecture themes will be provided, and there is flexibility for students to decide the essay topics themselves, so that they would have motivations to do further research on the topics they are passionate about.

There will also be a formative assessment in Week 9, in the form of a 500-word practice essay plan that will ask students to plan and demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of the literatures and topics they have studied, and to strategically present the research they may have undertaken in order to tackle the essay topic. Formative feedback will be provided in the lecturer’s consultation hours in either Week 11.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Welcome to Newcastle University Module Catalogue

This is where you will be able to find all key information about modules on your programme of study. It will help you make an informed decision on the options available to you within your programme.

You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.