Governance & Politics of Contemporary China - PO597

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5) MR J Gruffydd-Jones







This module aims to provide students with a critical review of China's political development in the 20th and early 21st centuries. After a brief overview of China's political history since 1949, it is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions that include the Communist Party, the government (the State Council), the legislature (the National People's Congress) and the military (the People's Liberation Army).

The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges facing the country in its ongoing development. They range from the prospects of democratisation and the growth of civil society, the issue of quality of life in the areas of the environment and public health, corruption, nationalism and ethnic minorities, national reunification, territorial disputes with neighbouring countries to China's engagement with global governance.

A major theme of the module is to address why the Chinese communist regime is more durable and resilient than other non-democratic countries in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that it faces numerous mounting development and governance challenges.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

60% coursework (seminar presentation (10%), essay (50%)); 40% exam.

Indicative reading

Saich, T., Governance and Politics of China, 4th ed. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) (key text).
Dreyer, J.T., China's Political System: Modernization and Tradition, 9th ed. (NY: Longman, 2015).
Guo, S., Chinese Politics and Government: Power, Ideology, and Organization (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013).
Joseph, W.A. (ed), Politics in China: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (NY: Oxford University Press, 2014).
MacFaquhar, R. (ed), The Politics of China: Sixty Years of the People's Republic of China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
- Understand the influence of revolutions on the evolution of China's political institutions
- Understand the predominant role of the Communist Party in ruling the country.
- Analyse the pressing issues challenging the country in its path to development.
- Analyse China's importance as a political power and a rising economic power and analyse its role in the emerging post-Cold War regional and global order.
- Use the knowledge earned from the study of China to inform comparative political studies.

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