Undergraduate course

Chinese Politics and Society

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeSAMPOL222
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Teaching semester

Autumn, irregular

Objectives and Content

China is a major power and home to the world's largest population and second largest economy. From being a relatively poor and isolated country a few decades ago, rapid economic growth and extraordinary reforms have turned China into a bustling, dynamic and highly diverse upper middle-income country and society. At the same time, China has maintained its authoritarian system of government and is ruled by the world's largest political organization, the Chinese Communist Party. Some of these characteristics challenge several facets of conventional political- and social science theory.

In this course we take a comprehensive, but still relatively deep, dive into Chinese politics and society. We cover some historical aspects but focus on recent or contemporary political and socioeconomic developments, mainly related to domestic, but also with some consideration to international, politics. Students will learn about key reform and policy processes and how to analyze and critically evaluate these in light of the overall situation and theoretical assumptions. The course is structured into eight main themes, covering key development achievements as well as several critical challenges facing China today.

This is an open course. Students who do not have a background in political- or social science are expected, if necessary, to do some extra (recommended) reading to follow the course without problems. The course is lecture based but include some group assignments, presentations and class discussion, the formats of which may be adjusted to the number of students in the course.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • demonstrate knowledge of overall developments and key reform and policy processes within contemporary Chinese politics and society
  • describe and explain how Chinese developments compare to other countries and regions


  • identify, analyze and discuss actual political and societal changes in light of arguments and positions put forward in relevant literature and scholarly debates
  • assess specific reform- and policy processes in light of overall political and social developments

General competence

  • critically apply concepts and perspectives within political- and social science debates to the Chinese context (case)

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge


Access to the Course

Open. The course will focus on political and social science perspectives, but it is open to students from other Departments and Faculties.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures (12 in total), including class discussion and student presentations.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Short policy brief (case study), with class presentation and written summary (2 pages/around 1000 words). Organized as group work (one presentation and one written summary per group). Must be completed and approved prior to taking the course exam.

Forms of Assessment

Ten hour take home-exam

Grading Scale

Grading A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Course Evaluation

The course is evaluated according to the guidelines found in Handbok for kvalitetssikring av universitetsstudia.

Course Coordinator

Hans Jørgen Gåsemyr

Course Administrator

Department of Comparative Politics


Contact Information