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Unit information: China and the World in the Twentieth Century (Level C Special Topic) in 2016/17

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Unit name China and the World in the Twentieth Century (Level C Special Topic)
Unit code HIST10030
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Fairchild
Open unit status Not open



HIST13003 Special Topic Project

School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


China’s tumultuous twentieth century was marked by invasion, civil war, revolution, and natural disaster. The century began with the anti-foreign Boxer Uprising and a declaration of war on the world by the Qing state. Subsequent decades saw potent intellectual debates over modernity, ideology, and nation building, as generations of scientists, writers, activists, and politicians sought to 'save' China from the degradations it suffered under foreign imperialism, and change its place in the world. Most key events – from the fall of the Qing Empire, to China's role in two world wars and the establishment of two republics – all carried a potent international dimension. 'Nothing mattered more' it has been argued, than China’s foreign relations. But was this truly the case? Students on this unit will examine a range of primary material and engage with key scholarly debates with implications both for how we understand this important period in China's modern history, and its legacy today.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

1. identified, analysed, and deepened their understanding of the development of China during the twentieth century ;

2. understood the historiographical debates that surround the topic;

3. learned how to work with primary sources;

4. developed their skills in contributing to and learning from discussion in a small-group environment.

Teaching details

Weekly 2-hour seminar

Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Details

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

The examination will assess ILOS 1-4 by assessing the students' understanding of the unit’s key themes, the related historiography as developed during their reading and participation in / learning from small group seminars, and relevant primary sources. Further assessment of their handling of the relevant primary sources will be provided by the co-requisite Special Topic Project (HIST 13003)

Reading and References

Chen Jian. Mao's China and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Duara, Prasenjit. "History and Globalization in China's Long Twentieth Century." Modern China 34, no. 1 (2008): 152-64.

Kirby, William C. "The Internationalization of China: Foreign Relations at Home and Abroad in the Republican Era." The China Quarterly, no. 150 (June 1997): 433-58

Mitter, Rana. China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival. London: Alan Lane, 2013.

Past & Present 218, Supplement 8 (2013).