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The Chinese Civil War


Admission requirements

Successful completion of BA1 Modern Chinese History.

Students that wish to write their BA Thesis in this course will have to receive permission from the programme. Applying for supervision can be done through this form.


The Chinese Civil War started in early March 1946 after full fledged fighting between Nationalist and Communist troops erupted in Manchuria. This conflict, which has its origins in the violent end of their alliance in 1927, spread to other parts of the country. Fighting eventually abated in 1949 as the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan and the Chinese Communist Party declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Recent developments remind us that this conflict remains unresolved. In this course,
we will cover political, military, and international dimensions of this conflict. We will also explore social, economic, and environmental impact of this conflict by examining individual experiences of war correspondents, urban workers, and displaced persons.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify key developments, themes, causation, and consequences of the Chinese civil war.

  • Evaluate competing interpretations and perspectives of the Chinese civil war.

  • Evaluate primary sources for points of view, accuracy and reliability.

  • Design and create an online multimedia essay on a storymapping platform.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Proposal = 20%
Final assignment = 80%

The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit for the final exam is allowed if a student scores a non-passing grade (5,49 or lower) on the first attempt.

Reading list

  • Lary, Diana. China's Civil War. West Nyack: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

  • Muscolino, Micah S. The Ecology of War in China: Henan Province, the Yellow River, and Beyond, 1938-Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

  • Pepper, Suzanne. Civil War in China: the Political Struggle 1945-1949. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md. [etc.]: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

  • Tanner, Harold M. The Battle for Manchuria and the Fate of China: Siping, 1946. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2013.

  • Westad, Odd Arne. Decisive Encounters: the Chinese Civil War, 1946-1950. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.

  • Yang, Dominic Meng-Hsuan. The Great Exodus from China: Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Modern Taiwan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Additional readings to be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof