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Unit Overview


This unit explores the various historical, social, political and international dimensions of contemporary China, whose global rise has caught the world's imagination due to its newly acquired economic, military and soft power prowess. The unit is focused on the major issues and policies of the People's Republic of China (PRC), particularly the political economy of its reform and modernization drive, the country's changing political institutions, expanding civil society, and prospects of democratization. The other components of a Greater China will also be examined – thus, political transformation in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and global Chinese diaspora will be studied for their interactions with, and impact on, the mainland China.

Specifically, an introductory lecture will present the analytical frameworks by critiquing the various scholarly approaches to the study of China, and the rest of the unit will then progress through five integrated topical themes, each of which will be based on a number of lectures. Theme 1 provides knowledge of China's pre-1949 political history, discussing the circumstances in which the country became the communist People's Republic of China, the polity as we know today. Theme 2 investigates the PRC politics chronologically, from Mao's radical class struggle and Cultural Revolution to the current regime's populist authoritarianism with more emphasis on sustainable economic growth, nationalist sentiment and diplomatic clout. Theme 3 examines the major political, social, environmental, and ethnic challenges and crises during the reform era, as well as looking for signs of political liberalisation and future democratization. Theme 4 is focused on China's evolving international relations, looking into the party-state's changing foreign policy, its passionate pursuit of soft power and the mounting challenges to the state's most important bilateral relations. Theme 5 looks at the developments in the “other Chinas”, namely politics of democratization and unification in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and the social and political implications of the rapid expansion of the overseas Chinese communities worldwide. The lecture series will conclude with a grand historical and conceptual assessment of the politics in Greater China.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; International Cybersecurity; Human Rights; International Relations major sequences
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate advanced knowledge about the nature and evolution of the political life in the People's Republic of China, including ideologies, institutions, leaderships, strategies and policies.; (2) show satisfactory understanding of the political transformation in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the global Chinese community and their interactions with mainland China.; (3) critically explain and evaluate relevant ideas, theories and concepts that seek to explain the Chinese politics and international relations.; (4) creatively apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to independently and collaboratively address changes, challenges and crises in China's reform and relations with the world.; (5) competently apply basic Political Science and International Relations methods and skills to design and execute research on the Chinese politics and international relations.; and (6) effectively communicate knowledge, ideas, analyses and arguments about China's politics and international relations in different formats..


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a major essay; (2) tutorial presentation and participation; and (3) an examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Jie Chen
Unit rules
12 points of Social Sciences and/or Humanities study at level 2
POLS2208 Politics in Greater China
Advisable prior study
Students should ideally have studied level 1
and level 2 units of the Major.
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.