Introduction to Chinese Contemporary History

All semesters

CCP Leaders (Mao, Deng, Jiang, Hu), Lauri Paltemaa

Introduction to Chinese Contemporary History (5 ECTS)

Organiser: Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku

Instructor: Professor Lauri Paltemaa

Time: Time:June 1 – August 31, 2021. This course does not have a fixed schedule, students watch the lecture videos and read the materials in their own pace and take the exam on one of the given dates during June 1 – August 31.

Goals: Students will learn in-depth the course of contemporary Chinese history (c. 1949 to present), its major events, personages, policies and contradictions as well as questions of its historiography. As transferable skills students will learn how to assimilate and understand large amounts of new information through following online lectures and reading research literature, as well as academic English listening and writing skills.

Contents: The course introduces students to Chinese contemporary history from the revolution to the present. The central theme in the course is to follow the folding and unfolding of the Communist experiment in China and the emergence of a new aspiring economic and political superpower by the early 21st century. Questions such as the nature of the communist revolution, Mao Zedong and his legacy, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping and the reform era policies as well as developments in more recent past are discussed and analyzed during the course from the historical point of view. The course is essential for those who want to gain deeper understanding of the great social, economic and political transformation of China in contemporary history.

Taken as:  

  • Online lectures (18 h) available throughout the year AND
  • Literature:
    • Paltemaa, Lauri and Juha Vuori: Kiinan kansantasavallan historia (2012) OR
    • MacFarquhar, Roderick: The Politics of China (2011):
  • Home exams with essay type questions (given once a month, you only need to pass the exam once)

This course does not have a fixed schedule. When you have watched the lectures and read the obligatory materials you can take the exam. A home exam is arranged once a month.

Grading: On a scale of 1–5

Target Group: All students who wish to gain introductory knowledge on Contemporary Chinese history.

Application period:

  • Application period for autumn term 2020: August 24–September 13, 2020.
  • Application period for spring term 2021: November 2–22, 2020.
  • Application period for summer term 2021: March 29–April 25, 2021
    Please check that your university is a member of the Asia Network in 2021. There might be changes in the membership at the turn of the year.

Go to application instructions. This course does not have enrollment limits. Some universities may define quotas on the number of students who can take courses offered by the Asia Network.  Information about the quotas is published before the application periods start.

Other interested persons can register for this course through the Open University at the University of Turku. (not available via the Open University during summer terms).

Persons who are not registered at the member universities of the University Network for Asian Studies, can apply to this course via the Open University at the University of Turku. There is a quota of five students on this course for students of the Open University. Please note that the Open University has an own, separate application process.
Information about the application criteria and study fees is available on this web site
In Finnish:
In English:


Photo: Lauri Paltemaa, Asianet Material Bank