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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: The Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives (ASST10150)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives provides an overview of major life cycle events and themes in Chinese societies. By the end of the course, students will have acquired a critical academic understanding of ethnography and an ethnographic approach to understanding Chinese society.
Course description The Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives introduces students to ethnography and ethnographic approaches to Chinese societies. The course is primarily designed to focus on the contemporary People's Republic of China but will also consider Taiwan and Hong Kong. Students will learn the basics of ethnography as a method. The course will analyse how an ethnographic approach can facilitate our understanding of how people make sense of life cycle events. Students can expect an in-depth and critical analysis of contemporary Chinese societies, with consideration for both rural and urban contexts. The course explores a range of themes central to the life cycle such as death, funerals, ancestors, birthing practices, kinship, sociality, gift-exchange, and old age. Classes will take the form of seminars with focussed discussion on primary texts and academic readings. Students will also be expected to draw on their understandings of Chinese societies developed during their Semester/Year Abroad in China/Taiwan. Students are expected to prepare the requested readings and contribute to discussions in class. Students should expect on average three academic readings each week as well as an article (or other source) in Chinese. Students will conduct a short exercise on the practice of ethnography (fieldwork). The fieldwork element will involve a short practical interview and participant observation exercise and will be discussed in class and assessed in the form of a short report. Students will also produce an essay on a particular theme or debate within the ethnographic literature on Chinese societies, and critically reflect on ethnography as an approach to understanding Chinese society in a separate "critical reflection." The critical reflection at the end of the course will take the form of a report and will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned about the usefulness of ethnography as a way to understand Chinese society. The course will complement existing courses offered through Asian Studies. In particular, it will converse with some themes covered in Politics and Policy in Contemporary China (ASST10126) by analysing the effects and outcomes of political and policy processes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 0%
Coursework: 100% - Fieldwork exercise (1,000 words) 20%; essay (4,000 words) 60%; Critical Reflection (1,000 words) 20%.
Feedback Students will receive written feedback for the each of the written assessment components.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Utilise a range of academic literature and primary sources for analysing contemporary Chinese societies.
  2. Critically assess theoretical concepts applied to the study of Chinese societies.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of ethnography and ethnographic methods.
  4. Undertake autonomous research and effectively communicate arguments in written form.
Reading List
Chen, Nancy.N. 2001. China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. [electronic resource]

Hammersley, Martyn & Paul Atkinson. 2007. Ethnography: Principles in Practice Third Ed. London: Routledge. [electronic resource]

Yan, Yunxiang, 2009. The individualization of Chinese society, Oxford: Berg. [HUB and Standard Loan]
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and enquiry; Analytical thinking; Critical thinking; Handling complexity and ambiguity.

Personal and intellectual autonomy; Self-awareness and reflection; Independent learning and development.

Personal effectiveness; Planning, organising and time management; assertiveness and confidence; flexibility.

Communication; Interpersonal skills; Verbal and written communication.
KeywordsChinese,China,society,ethnography,life cycle
Course organiserDr Mark McLeister
Tel: (0131 6)50 4232
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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