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CHN2004 : Contemporary Chinese Society: Issues and Challenges

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jo Smith Finley
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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

Introductory session

Lecture 1. Individual, Family and Society
Lecture 2. Woman
Lecture 3. Population and Fertility
Lecture 4. The Environment (Resource Degradation)
Lecture 5. The Environment (Pollution)

Lecture 6. The Rual - Urban Divide
Lecture 7. Internal Migration
Lecture 8. Social Inequality
Lecturer 9. Education
Lecture 10. Ethnicity

Lecture 11. Criminal Law
Lecture 12. Religion
Lecture 13. Human Trafficking
Lecture 14. The Internet and Cybercrime
Lecture 15. Human Rights

Essay planning workshop

Block of 15 seminars

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00Inlcudes an introduction session and an essay planning workshop.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching151:0015:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00Includes 1.5 hours for in-class assessment.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

15 themed lectures 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 domestice policies and global currents in the future evolution of Chinese society.

Each lecture begins 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.

The block of lectures is followed by an Essay planning workshop, designed to counsel students on how to research material, analyse sources critically, and plan, structure and present their arguments.

Finally, there will be a block of 15 seminars, corresponding to each of the lecture themes, and designed to focus in on a selected aspect of the social phenomenon in question. Pairs of students will plan and prepare a short presentation (15-20 minutes) for students peers, a process intended to foster independent reading and research, individual initiative and teamwork. Formative feedback will be provided by the Lecturer.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A70Week 7, Semester 1 - An essay of 2000-2500 words (including quotations and footnotes but excluding bibliographies).
Written exercise1M30(in-class under timed conditions)Commentary, week 7. 90 minutes.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MCommentary (see above) Week 7. Formative feedback on the commentary will be provided to students individually by the Lecturer.
Practical/lab report1MPresentations. weeks 7-12. Formative feedback will be provided by the Lecturer in-class.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module will be assessed by two peices of assessment;

Commentary: a formative assessment, produced in-class in timed conditions, and requiring students to analyse an unseen textual extract (e.g. from a Governmental White Paper on environmental policy) (Week 7)
Essay of 2000-2500 words, a summative assessment demonstrating knowledge of taught aspects of Chinese society as well as the ablity to critically analyse social themes.

For the commentary, there will be a choice of four textual extracts from which students may choose two.

For the assessed essay, there will be a choice of essay questions covering the lecture themes. Essay questions will be published mid-semester 1.

Reading Lists