Module Catalogue 2022/23

HIS3131 : Violence and social transformation in China and Taiwan, 1940s-1980s

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joseph Lawson
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 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 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) Ability to access and analyse large online datasets with survey data from China. Students will learn R software for this. NO background knowledge or expertise is required. Use of this software or the datasets is not required for the completion of assignments for this module.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion801:0080:0080 hours of work to prepare assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading871:0087:00Approx. 8 hours of directed reading and viewing to prepare for weekly seminars.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00Weekly seminars: 3 hours in total. Typically broken into a 1 hour seminar and a 2 hour seminar.
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.
Between 0-10 hours under 'directed research and reading' can involve following video instructions on use of R software for analysis of large datasets. Students can choose to spend more or less time on this according to their interests.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A702500 word final essay
Oral Examination1M3010-minute pre-recorded video podcast.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MUp 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. No special technical skills are required: Students will be taught how to use basic software to do this. The video can include the presenters face, but need not. It could also include relevant images. Marking will concentrate on the content of the presentation and the delivery, rather than the use of software.

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

The formative draft or plan of the final essay will give students an opportunity to develop ideas and receive feedback on their ideas for their final essay before submitting it.

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

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.