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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.

Course objectives

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

  • Evaluate and contextualize a variety of primary and secondary sources;

  • Distinguish between interpretation and evidence in historical documents and writing;

  • Appraise different perspectives on historical questions.


Check the collegerooster for the correct time and location.

Mode of instruction


Course load

  • Total: 140 hours

  • Weekly lectures: 28 hours

  • Preparing for lectures: 80 hours

  • Preparing for tests and short paper: 32 uur

Assessment method

Written exam: 90%
Short paper: 10%
The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit for the written exam 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

Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China. Third Edition. Norton, 2013.
Janet Chen et al., ed. The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Norton, 2013.


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 en Contractonderwijs

Registration for Studeren à la carte
Registration for Contractonderwijs


Dr. L.M. Teh