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

Postgraduate Course: China from 1978 to 2018: Reflecting on 40 Years of Reform and Opening (ASST11115)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will explore the People's Republic of China's policy of "Reform and Opening" through analysis and discussion of the academic debates and original documents which cover the period between 1978 and 2018. The collection of policies under the term "Reform and Opening" has dominated political, social, and economic development in China between 1978 and 2018. The idea of the era of "Reform and Opening" has also helped capture the astounding transformation of the country in the late 20th and early 21st century and has served as the core descriptive and analytical paradigm in contemporary China studies. This course will introduce students to the key developments, documents, and debates during the 40 years since 1978 framed by two overarching questions: what do the Chinese state and China scholars mean when they discuss the era of "Reform and Opening"; and has it come to an end?
Course description The collection of policies captured under the term "Reform and Opening" has been the defining feature of the People's Republic of China between 1978 and 2018. It has also been the dominant means to describe and explain developments in China since 1978. The so-called era of "Reform and Opening" has seen China transform from a predominantly rural, underdeveloped, and internationally isolated country to an essential part of the global economy and an emerging regional and global power. This period has been characterised by political stability, ideological openness, and rapid development but it has arguably come to an end and this paradigm shift is reflected in the academic literature. In this course students will study the People's Republic of China during the period 1978 to 2018. The course critically engages with the ideas and debates surrounding the descriptive and analytical paradigm of the era of "Reform and Opening". The course is structured to reflect this by introducing students to the idea of the "Reform and Opening" and the end of reform both as an historical event and an academic debate. The course then focuses on core areas where "Reform and Opening" played out during the period addressing different aspects of the economy, society, and politics. The course then concludes by setting China's era of "Reform and Opening" in a comparative context, revisits the argument that the era has come to an end, and looks to the future. Students will work with both academic studies on the different aspects of the period and key primary documents.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay (3,500 - 4000 words) - 100%
Feedback Opportunities for formative feedback will be made available to students in advance of assessment deadlines.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe and explain key political, social, and economic developments in China between 1978 and 2018.
  2. Articulate and evaluate the academic debate addressing China's reform era.
  3. Critically discuss and evaluate key documents relevant to China's reform era.
  4. Identify and use appropriately resources relevant to understanding China's reform era.
  5. Produce appropriately written and formatted text for assessment.
Reading List
Meisner, M.J. (1999) Mao's China and after: a history of the People's Republic. New York: Free Press.
Minzner, C. (2018) End of an Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Saich, T. (2011) Governance and Politics of China. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wright, T. (2010) Accepting Authoritarianism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and enquiry: Problem solving; analytical thinking; critical thinking; knowledge integration and application; handling complexity and ambiguity.
Personal and intellectual autonomy: Self-awareness and reflection; independent learning and development; creative and inventive thinking.
Personal effectiveness: Planning, organising and time management; assertiveness and confidence; flexibility.
Communication: Interpersonal skills, verbal and written communication, presentation.
KeywordsChina,1978,Politics,Reform and Opening
Course organiserDr Daniel Hammond
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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