HST2503: The Battle for China's Future, 1839-1949

20 credits (semester 2)

Module Leader: Dr Tehyun Ma


Module Summary

This module explores a century in which nationalists and imperialists fought over China. We will begin by looking at how the Qing empire, having expanded China’s frontiers, confronted the 'semi-colonialism' of foreign powers and bloody domestic rebellions. After covering the Qing's fall in the 1911 Revolution, we will examine different designs for national integration on the part of warlords, reformers, and radicals, and consider the civil wars that followed. China’s history in this period is sometimes told as a straightforward story of Eastern response to Western impact. But in introducing you to China before Communist rule, we will consider a more complex story of innovation, exchange, accommodation, and resistance, as the Middle Kingdom’s dynastic rulers and their republican successors tried to meet foreign and domestic challenges, balance conservatism and modernization, and redraw their country’s social, political, and geographic boundaries.


The module will develop your knowledge and understanding of China before the creation of the People’s Republic in 1949. Lectures, seminars, and assessments will be designed to improve your analytical abilities and communication skills. In respect to content, the module will use imperialism and nationalism as thematic hooks, with an emphasis on the plurality in China of both empires (the Qing, British, Japanese etc.), and models of nationhood (e.g. the Chinese Nationalist Party, Communist Party, collaborationist regimes during the Sino-Japanese War). Key issues to explore include the nature of empire in China, the tension between conservatism and modernization, and the social, political, and geographic boundary-drawing of nation-making after the 1911 Revolution. Although undergraduates may be unfamiliar with Chinese history, the module builds on themes embedded in HST112 and HST117 at Level 1, and the first lecture and seminar will aim to set down a solid foundation for further study of the region.

Teaching and Assessment

The module will be taught through eleven lectures and eleven seminars. Lectures will examine particular events and developments in the history of China until 1949 , while seminars will focus on historians' and students' interpretations of those events. Formative feedback on both written work and oral participation will help prepare you for the summative assessment.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2


Intended Learning Outcomes
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