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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 11 sessions in the first semester. 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, 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 and using the academic language.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Consultation hours
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

All sessions are designed as a 2-hours survey lecture followed by a 1-hour student-led seminar.

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 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 consider different literary genres.
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.

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

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601M40Class test in Week 8 - 1) reading comprehension, 2) writing a summary
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A602250 words. Assessment in English. A choice of questions will be provided.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MPractice essay plan in week 10. 500 words. Feedback in consultation hours in week 12.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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

The written exam evaluates students’ comprehension and summary skills. It is designed to give them an exercise opportunity to make use of their knowledge on the topics covered in lectures, and it can demonstrate their comprehension of the target text and academic writing skills through reading authentic materials.

The assessed essay of 2,250 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 questions covering lecture themes will be provided.

There will also be a formative assessment in Week 10, 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 12.

Reading Lists