ATS3079 - The fall and rise of modern China: From opium war to opening up - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Carolyn James


Dr Gwyn McClelland

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.


The rise of China as an economic superpower since the 1980s features as one of the most startling and spectacular stories of development in human history. Modern China appears to be one characterised by contradictions and idiosyncrasies: Communist in name, but capitalist in practice; embracing of the newest cultural trends in fashion, music, media, and education yet deeply suspicious of Western ideas. Talk about greater levels of democratic participation are often smothered by powerful waves of Chinese nationalism positing that liberal ideologies are incompatible with the very nature of Chinese society.

In this unit, students will come to understand the range of explanations that have been put forward to account for the rise of modern China in the decades and centuries following its humiliating defeats in the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century. Through a close examination of key events in China's modern history as well as shifting ideas of nation, nationalism, and modernity, it furnishes students with an in-depth understanding of the modern Chinese state and its citizenry, as well as China's likely future trajectory.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. have a deep understanding of the various explanations posited about the rise of modern China;
  2. understand the underlying ideology of the modern Chinese state;
  3. develop the ability to effectively utilise primary sources related to the study of China, either by accessing original language documents or through English translations;
  4. become familiar with how and why ideas about China in the Western world have changed over time;
  5. develop a high level of cross-cultural literacy in understanding the political and cultural positions adopted by the Chinese state and its citizenry;
  6. plan and execute a work of research independently that satisfies the high standards of scholarly argument, documentation and referencing.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

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This unit applies to the following area(s) of study