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

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • 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

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 first 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. Subsequent sessions are designed as a 2-hours survey lecture followed by a 1-hour student-led seminar. All the themes 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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Present in person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0022:00Students will get pre-reading questions before lectures and after-reading question afterwards
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Student-led seminar (online)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Essay surgery
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1145:00145:00N/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 (on line session).

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.

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation151M30Module 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
Essay1M70An 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. 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 2, 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.

Reading Lists