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Modern Chinese History


Admission requirements



This course is about China’s transition from empire to nation-state, a process that began in the nineteenth century with domestic rebellions and Western imperialism besieging the beleaguered Qing state. It can be said that China is still in the process of becoming a nation-state as its intellectuals continue to debate if the modern Chinese state should be a democracy, and as Tibetans, Uighurs and other minority nationalities protest exclusion from political representation and economic development. To understand China’s on-going transition, we rely on a combination of primary and secondary literature to examine various attempts at theorizing and organizing a Chinese nation-state, the role of history in the construction of national and ethnic identity, and the interplay between individual agency and collective mobilization. The readings, lectures, and assignments are also designed to expose students to historical methods and research skills. Next to the lectures a tutorial is provided for students of the BA Chinastudies (only) in which the material is further discussed.

Course objectives

  • Identify key events, personalities, and themes in the history of modern China.

  • Describe significance of key events in the history of modern China.

  • Analyze readings for argument, perspective, approach, and context.

  • Formulate evidence-based arguments in academic English.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars

Assessment method


  • Short written assignments = 20%

  • Midterm Exam = 35%

  • Final Exam = 45%


See above


The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit is allowed if a student scores an average non-passing grade (5,49 or lower). This resit supersedes earlier results on the midterm and final exams.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Compensation scheme

In the event of an unsatisfactory assessment of this course, the compensation scheme may be used, whereby an unsatisfactory mark is compensated within a cluster of subjects if the weighted average within the relevant cluster is at least 6.0. More information and all conditions can be found under the Information tab.

Reading list

  • Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

  • Timothy Cheek, Klaus Mühlhahn and Hans van de Ven, eds. The Chinese Communist Party: A Century in Ten Lives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Additional materials announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.