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Modern Chinese History


Admission requirements



This course is about China’s transition from empire to nation-state, a process that began in the nineteenth century with domestic rebellions and Western imperialism besieging the beleaguered Qing state. It can be said that China is still in the process of becoming a nation-state as its intellectuals continue to debate if the modern Chinese state should be a democracy, and as Tibetans, Uighurs and other minority nationalities protest exclusion from political representation and economic development. To understand China’s on-going transition, we rely on a combination of primary and secondary literature to examine various attempts at theorizing and organizing a Chinese nation-state, the role of history in the construction of national and ethnic identity, and the interplay between individual agency and collective mobilization. The readings, lectures, and assignments are also designed to expose students to historical methods and research skills.

Course objectives

  • Identify key events, personalities, and themes in the history of modern China;

  • Describe significance of key events in the history of modern China;

  • Analyze and write evidence-based arguments.


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Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  1. Paper: document analysis
  2. Mid-term Exam: written exam (open-book or closed-book), consisting of essay question(s).
  3. Final Exam: written exam (open-book or closed-book), consisting of document analysis and essay questions


  1. Paper: 20%
  2. Mid-term Exam: 30%
  3. Final Exam: 50%

The overall course grade is the weighted average between the three components listed above; however, students must receive a minimum score of 5.50 (=6) for the Final Exam to pass the course.

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


There are no resit opportunites for the individual assessment components. A single combined Resit Exam (100%) is available for students who score a “5.49” (=5) or lower for their Final Exam or whose weighted overall course score is “5.49” (=5) or lower.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
Additional materials posted on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

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Dr. V.K. Chang, LLM