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


Admission requirements

Successful completion of BA1 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  • Effectively read various genres of historical documents and scholarly literature;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 .


The timetable is available on the Chinastudies website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 140 hours
Weekly seminars: 12 × 2 hours (24 hours total )
Class preparation (complete assignments and readings): 12 × 6 hours (72 hours total)
Final paper: 44 hours

Assessment method

Class assignments and participation: 50%
Final paper: 50%
The final grade consists of the weighted average of all course components. A resit for the essay component is allowed if a student scores a non-passing grade (5,49 or lower) on the first attempt.


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

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website


Dr. V.K. Chang, LLM