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Modern Chinese History: Work and Workers in 20th century China


Admission requirements

Successful completion of BA-1 College Modern Chinese History.


This course surveys transformations in Chinese society in its transition from agrarianism to communist industrialism, with special focus on experiences of urban workers and their families at work and home, and in public. Specific topics examined include migration for work, the labor movement in the 1920s, changes in standards of living, gender relations, and the politicization of work under Nationalist and Communist regimes. Primary source documents, ranging from official reports to individual memoirs, augment readings in secondary historical literature.

Course objectives

  • Identify key events, concepts and personalities in the social history of Modern China;

  • Effectively read various genres of historical documents and scholarly literature;

  • Analyze how historians construct arguments with primary source documents;

  • Compose in discussion and writing cogent and substantiated arguments .


See timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

  • Total course load for the course is 140 hours – Weekly seminars: 2 hours per week; 28 hours total – Preparation for class: 6 hours per week; 72 hours total – Writing short papers: 20 hours per exam; 40 hours total

Assessment method

  • Class attendance and active participation: 35%
    (Note: active participation entails taking part in class discussions, short quizzes and in-class writing assignments)

  • Class presentation on select reading: 15%

  • 2 short papers: 25% x 2; 50% total

The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit for the second short essay is allowed if a student scores a non-passing grade (5,49 or lower) on the first attempt.


Yes. Blackboard is used for posting complete reading list, class communications, and exam submission.

Reading list

See Blackboard.


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registrationprocedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs