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More in this section Second-Year Courses

Awakening China: From the Opium Wars to the Present Day


Value half unit


Dr Weipin Tsai


Taught through weekly lectures and weekly follow-up seminars


2-hour exam (70%), best one of two coursework essays (20%), oral presentation (10%)

This course explores how China made its transition from isolated, self-contained 'Middle Kingdom' in the middle of the nineteenth century, to its present day status as emerging global superpower. The course begins with the Opium Wars, which announced the arrival of foreign powers in China, but also marked the beginning of its opening up to a new age. It then follows China's development, navigating the major themes of Chinese Modern History including the social stresses and political movements that led to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in the Revolution of 1911, and the May Fourth Movement of 1919; the origins and effects of the Sino-Japanese War; the rise of Chinese Communism and its impact after Mao came to power, from the Long March to the Cultural Revolution; and China's progress since 1978 in balancing communist principles with market-driven economic growth. Overall the course examines how a new nation was built, not just in political and social terms but also through the experiences of the people who lived through it.

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