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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5400M The Rise of China

30 creditsClass Size: 48

Module manager: Dr Kingsley Edney

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Since its founding in 1949 the People’s Republic of China has gone from being a backward pariah state, riven by internal conflict and lacking even a seat at the United Nations, to being at the very centre of world affairs. When combined with its vast territory and large population, China’s dramatic economic growth since the late 1970s makes it a genuine contender for great power status. This rapid transformation generates a number of questions about the kind of great power China will be, however. This module focuses on key problems in international relations that are associated with China’s rise, such as whether China will attempt to remake the existing world order, whether China’s rise will lead to international conflict, and whether or not China is a threat to democracy. In this module students will gain an understanding of China’s approach to foreign policy and its international priorities; they will learn about the challenges China’s rise poses to the global economy and regional security, China’s desire to become a cultural power, and issues such as nationalism and energy security that shape Chinese foreign policy. At the end of the module students will have an appreciation for the key problems and debates relating to China’s rise in the discipline of international relations.


1. Develop students’ understanding of different aspects of China’s rising power
2. Introduce students to the key debates over China’s rising power in the international system
3. Introduce students to China’s foreign policy processes and to China’s international objectives
4. Develop students’ ability to critically analyse the impact of China’s rise on the existing international order

Learning outcomes
1. Understanding of the scope and scale of China’s rising international power
2. Knowledge of the international problems that China’s rise creates and of the debates surrounding those problems
3. Knowledge of the factors that shape the making of Chinese foreign policy
4. Understanding of key theories of international order and how they relate to China’s rise


The early weeks of the module will introduce the theoretical approaches to international order that will be drawn on throughout the module, the key debates over China’s rise, and China’s foreign policy structures and processes. The module will then examine in more detail the economic, military and cultural aspects of China’s rising power, before focusing on important issues such as nationalism, greater China and China’s role in international institutions. The module will conclude by reflecting on how we should best respond to China’s rise.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are expected to prepare for seminars by reading the material listed in the module handbook. This requires students to read widely, carefully reflect on the relevant arguments and ideas, take notes and summarise texts in preparation for seminar discussions. Students are also expected to engage in independent research when preparing their essays. Students will have a list of required reading and supplementary reading for each week, as well as a list of key discussion questions for each seminar.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored formally through a mid-term briefing paper as well as informally through their contribution to the weekly seminar discussions. Students will also have opportunities to discuss their progress individually outside class hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 End of Term essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Formative briefing paper (Non Assessed)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 18/12/2023


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