nl en

Chinese Economy and its Institutions


Admission requirements

  • only to be attended in combination with Understanding China’s Economic Development

  • previous knowledge of economics or business (e.g having taken a minor in a related subject area),

  • in a degree programme with China focus

Only a limited number of MA-students in Asian Studies can be admitted to these courses. If you meet the requirements above, please send your request to attend and proof to


This course will review and analyze the institutional foundations that underlie the Chinese economy and its development. The course thus interlinks with the knowledge and competences that students are acquiring during the course “Understanding China’s Economic Development”. The module starts out with a broad introduction to China’s political and economic set-up. It then moves on to a detailed examination of Chinese institutional change and innovation around the means of production: capital, labor, human capital, and land. We also pay special attention to understanding the overall sustainability of China’s development, and to assessing technological progress in the PRC. The course will provide students with an advanced understanding of the Chinese economy’s institutional structure and the economic policy decisions that inform it. This will include its shifts in time and place, and the institutional dilemmas and choices facing the Chinese leadership. Students will also be taught how to locate, calculate, interpret, and review Chinese qualitative and quantitative economic data and institutional development indicators.

Course objectives

After completing this course, students will be able:

  • Describe the Chinese economy in terms of its institutional structure and sustainability;

  • Revisit selected theories of institutional and sustainable development and assess these in the Chinese context;

  • Comprehend and contribute to debates around Chinese institutional change and collapse;

  • Work as a team and present one topic related to China’s economic development and its institutions.


Check the timetable on the departmental website.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminar discussions
Please note that attendance to the course is obligatory and will be registered during each session.

Assessment method

The course consists of 7 sessions of 2 hours and uses a mix of lectures and plenary discussions. The final grade will be based on a term paper proposal (pass/fail, to be submitted two weeks before the end of the module) and a final term paper (100% of final mark – paper length 3000 words, deadline tbd). A re-write is only possible for the final paper provided that the term paper grade is lower than 5.5. Revised paper will not be able to score above a 6.0 (i.e. pass). There will be no written examination. Students have to submit their assignments in hard-copy, as well as electronically through SafeAssign/Ephorus available on Blackboard.


Blackboard is used for regular course communication, general course proceedings, and information on reading material as well as assessment criteria and grading. Note also that all readings, presentations, and a detailed course manual will be made available on Blackboard. In addition, the presentation of the 1st lecture contains important information about the course.

Reading list

All required readings are announced in the respective weekly sections on Blackboard. If no link is provided to a public version of the texts, you will need to check the digital library for a copy. For book chapters, see the course shelf in the Leiden University East Asia Studies library, located in the Arsenaal.
A book that we will continuously use in both courses this block, and which may therefore be worth purchasing rather than reading in the library, is the following volume (note: it will be available on the course shelf at the EAS library):

  • Naughton, Barry (2007), The Chinese Economy: Transition and Growth, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
    The following introduction is recommended (though not required) for students who have not studied Chinese studies as an undergraduate degree, or students who would like to fresh up on their background knowledge of modern China (similar introductions are also available in the same series on other topics like economics or globalization):

  • Mitter, Rana (2008), A Very Short Introduction to Modern China, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Contact information

Dr. F.A. Schneider