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

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fang Su
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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

After students returning from their year abroad in China where all language classes are taught in Chinese, their Chinese can be further improved by incorporating more cultural and social elements. 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, covering 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 9 sessions in the first semester. Every week students will have two scheduled small group teaching hours (1 hour in-class and 1 hour on-line seminar sessions). 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.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials94:0036:00Includes pre-reading questions before lectures and after-reading questions after lectures.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Present in Person
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:00Extra reading/research materials.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study198:0098:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

All sessions are designed as a 1-hour online teaching followed by a 1-hour in class small group teaching.
1)       The in class teaching provides 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 on line teaching in seminar style 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 two online surgery sessions allow students to seek advice on coursework requirements. Additional reading materials on how to do a presentation and write an academic essay will be included as part of the structure guided learning.

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

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M100An essay of 2,500 words. The language of assessment is English. A choice of research themes will be provided.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MPractice essay plan. 500 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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

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 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 8, 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 Week 9 (after Christmas).

Reading Lists