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

Postgraduate Course: The Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives (ASST11118)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) 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.

Please note that places on this course are strictly limited and that priority will be given to students taking degrees in Chinese. Students who are non-native speakers of Chinese MUST be able to demonstrate an advanced level of proficiency in Chinese (especially in reading).
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 contemporary mainland China but will also consider Taiwan and Hong Kong. Students will learn about the basics of ethnography as a method and critically reflect on ethnography as an approach to understanding Chinese societies. 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, naming, birthing practices, kinship, sociality, and old age. Students will also be expected to draw on their understandings of Chinese societies developed during time spent in mainland China/Taiwan/Hong Kong.

Students are expected to prepare the requested readings and contribute to discussions in seminar sessions and on the Discussion Board. Students should expect on average three academic readings each week as well as an article (or other source) in Chinese (advanced Chinese reading skills expected to complete these). Students will be complete a mid-course assessment and will produce an end-of-course essay on a particular theme or debate within the ethnographic literature on the life cycle in Chinese societies. The course will complement existing courses offered through Asian Studies.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
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) Written Exam: 0%
Coursework: 100%
Summative: Essay (3,000 words) 60%; Mid-course assessment 20%; Discussion Board 20%.
Feedback Students will receive written feedback for the each of the written assessment components. There will also be an opportunity to discuss the essay plan with the Course Organiser in person. The assessments are spaced in such a way through the semester as to provide an opportunity for students to reflect on the feedback for each of the assessments before the next assessment is due.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethnography and ethnographic methods.
  2. Adopt a critical approach to relevant bodies of academic literature for analysing contemporary Chinese societies.
  3. Synthesise appropriate primary sources to make informed and critical observations about life cycle events in Chinese societies.
  4. Design and undertake autonomous research on one or more core themes of the contemporary Chinese life cycle with a clear and justified approach/methodology.
  5. Effectively and appropriately communicate and defend arguments in written and oral forms.
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,PRC,Taiwan,Hong Kong,society,ethnography,life cycle
Course organiserDr Mark McLeister
Tel: (0131 6)50 4232
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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