Module Catalogue 2021/22

HIS3131 : Social histories of China and Taiwan in the Cold War

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joseph Lawson
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Students learn about the social history of China and Taiwan during the Cold War (1940s-1980s). Core questions are: How did societies in China and Taiwan change over this period? What explains collective violence in China during the Cultural Revolution, and the protests and crackdowns in Taiwan? What have been the legacies of violence and division? And, how were visions of Maoist socialism in China and capitalism under one-party rule in Taiwan translated into everyday reality?

Students also learn how to critically evaluate methodologies for studying the the social history of China and Taiwan during the Cold War. Social history is especially difficult in China, where the Communist Party has always exercised a high degree of control over information. This affected record-keeping practices in the Maoist era, and has shaped access to archives and the nature of public memory in subsequent eras. Even in Taiwan, where records are significantly more open, the legacy of a dictatorship and highly divided society in the Cold War era presents special problems for social historians.

Outline Of Syllabus

Indicative guide to subjects covered:
-The Second World War in East Asia
-The consolidation of Nationalist rule in Taiwan and Communist rule in China
-Land Reform in China and Taiwan
-The Great Leap Forward and famine
-Collective violence in the Cultural Revolution
-Gender and the Cultural Revolution
-The Educated Youth in the Countryside
-Taiwanese capitalism
-Tibet in China, China in Tibet
-Deng Xiaoping's China
-Democratization in Taiwan.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1) Broad knowledge of twentieth century Chinese and Taiwanese social history from the 1940s to the 1980s
2) Knowledge of a range of historians’ interpretations of change in Cold War era China and Taiwan.
3) Knowledge of the usefulness and limitations of different methodologies for doing social history in the contexts studied in the module. These will include both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1) Ability to conduct independent research.
2) Ability to argue clearly, logically, and on the basis of evidence, orally and in writing.
3) Confidence in contributing positively to class discussions
4) Oral presentation skills, including structuring a presentation, use of visual aids, and recording podcasts.
5) Ability to do contextualize and critically evaluate primary sources (in translation from Chinese, as well as documents originally in English) in research that engages with existing historiographical literature.
6) Basic quantitative skills for research: students will have the option of using these skills as part of their assessment, but doing so is not compulsory. Students will be taught to use the free software R to do basic analysis of online datasets.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion801:0080:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:001 hour per week of video recording. Counted towards student contact
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading761:0076:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities111:0011:00Skills activities (online)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching221:0022:00seminars: 2 hours per week. Either present in person or synchronous online, depending on pandemic
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Small-group teaching provides students with an opportunity to summarize and ask questions about the readings, and to improve their ability to engage in debate and discussion.

Lecture materials provide context and direction for students' independent research, reading, and seminar preparation.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation102M30Pre-recorded video podcast. Video can include any/all of: text, images, or video of presenter.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A702500 word final essay
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MUp to 500 words of a draft for the final essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The pre-recorded video presentation tests students' ability to synthesize information and present it orally with visual aids.

Essays test students' ability to research set problems, and formulate evidence-based arguments.

The form of the resit is no different from the above, i.e. no marks are carried over from the sit to the resit. Students are not allowed to submit for the resit any work that they have previously submitted.

Submitted work, tests, intended knowledge and skills outcomes develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 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 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.