Governance & Politics of Contemporary China - POLI5970

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction and review of China's political development from 1949 to today. Following a brief historical review of the evolution of the Chinese political system since 1949, this module is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions. They include the Communist Party, the government (State Council), the legislature (National People’s Congress) and the military (People’s Liberation Army). The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges the country is facing in its ongoing development. They range from political participation and state-society relations, the cost of economic growth to environment and public health, tensions with ethnic minorities, the issues of nationalism and the relationship with Taiwan and Hong Kong, irredentism and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, and finally China’s grand strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A theme running through various lectures of this module is to ask why post-Mao China has performed better than many other authoritarian regimes in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that China faces numerous mounting development challenges.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main Assessment Methods:

• Seminar presentation (10%)
• Essay, 3000 words (50%)
• Exam, 2-hour (40%)

Reassessment: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China, 5th edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Understand the influence of revolutions on the evolution of China's political institutions;

2. Understand the predominant role of the Communist Party in ruling the country;

3. Analyse the pressing issues challenging the country in its path to development;

4. Understand China’s importance as a political power and a rising economic power in the emerging post-Cold War global order;

5. Use the knowledge earned from the study of China to inform comparative political studies.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.