CHN10100 Contemporary China: Governance Structures and Media

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module is designed to help students understand the context, processes and issues relating to the governance and media in contemporary China, and China's role in the international arena. This module provides, firstly, a holistic understanding of the evolving governance structure in different stages of China’s contemporary history since the 19th century. The module then explores China’s engagement on the global stage as the country experiences dramatic changes in the post-reform era. Finally, this module provides an insightful look at the development of the New Media-Internet in China, with a specific focus on the revolutionary change of the Chinese society brought by the booming social media and government reaction and responsiveness amid these social changes.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate basic understanding on key claims of ancient Chinese philosophies on state and governance.
2. Describe the evolution of Chinese governing structures over the past century.
3. Explain the relationship between state, party, and society in contemporary China.
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of governance at both central and subnational level in post-reform China.
5. Explain China's role on the global stage.
6. Explain the broad landscape of the Chinese media environment.

Indicative Module Content:

This module is split into three sections. The first four weeks provide, firstly, an overview of ancient Chinese philosophies on the state, the governance and world view, followed by the historical context from the Republican era to the present day. This section enables an understanding of the changing forms of governance in China. Key figures such as Sun Yatsen, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping are discussed in the light of the socio-political impact they had. The second section of the module (four weeks) focuses on the current structure of governance in the country and China’s changing strategy on global engagement and evolving approach to global governance since 1949. In this section, the relationship between the government and the Communist Party of China is discussed, as well as centre-local relations and governance within the provinces. China’s ‘style’ of international relations is also discussed. The final section (four weeks) looks specifically at media in China - broadcasting, press and Internet – and discussing issues surrounding censorship and openness. The use of the Internet for shaping public opinions and generating new forms of political protest in China is the key topic this media study intends to explore. This section ends with a discussion on China’s future challenges.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The contact hours for this course are divided between a lecture, group discussions and activities, and smaller tutorial sessions where more specific ideas and issues are worked on. Students should come to the seminars and tutorial prepared to discuss the assigned reading. It is essential that students stay up to date with readings to complete the course. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Chinese Politics and Media (BCHN10270)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Group Project: 2 group presentations Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: 2,500 words Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Attendance: Attendance to lectures;
Participation to group discussions;
Participation in news sharing activities;
Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

1. William A. Joseph,Politics in China: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014/2nd Edition)
2. Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011/3rd Edition)
3. Susan Shirk, Changing Media, Changing China (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Many of the required readings for this course will be taken from these books. It is essential that you have completed the reading before coming to class. In addition, there will be additional reading given out each week as the basis for discussion in the tutorial. This will normally be an article, or a chapter from another book, and will be available through library.
Name Role
Dr Xiaodong Li Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Caitríona Osborne Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 15:00 - 16:50