China in World Affairs

Module titleChina in World Affairs
Module codePOL3202
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Beverley Loke (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

China’s re-emergence as a major power has raised important questions for international order and global governance. How can we understand China’s rise and impact on an evolving global order? This module critically examines the theory and practice of China’s international relations. You will examine the different theoretical approaches to interpret China’s rise as well as explore the connections between China’s history and contemporary debates on China’s foreign policy. You will also analyse China’s evolving relations around the world, the main drivers of its global engagement, and the processes of competition, contestation and cooperation in key areas of global governance. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide you with the analytical tools to critically examine China’s evolving role in world politics. You will develop a keen awareness of the theoretical and conceptual debates surrounding China’s rise and gain an appreciation of the ways in which China’s historical legacy have shaped its worldview and foreign policy. This theoretical, conceptual and historical knowledge will then be applied to analyse China’s contemporary international relations and global governance role. Through a detailed case-study focus on some of China’s bilateral, regional and institutional relationships as well as its involvement in key thematic global governance challenges, you will complete this module with a solid understanding of the complexities surrounding China’s global role in the 21st century. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse key theoretical frameworks and contemporary debates on China’s rise;
  • 2. Identify and evaluate the various factors influencing Chinese foreign policy and global engagement;
  • 3. Assess China’s major bilateral, regional and institutional relationships;
  • 4. Critically analyse China’s evolving role in global governance;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Critically evaluate competing IR theories as they relate to China;
  • 6. Deploy theoretical arguments and apply them to empirical case studies;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Conduct independent research and write cogent analytical essays;
  • 8. Exercise critical independent thinking and formulate critical arguments;
  • 9. Communicate effectively through submitted written work and seminar contributions;
  • 10. Engage in constructive peer evaluation.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

Part I: Analytical framing: theory, concepts and history

The first section examines the main theoretical and conceptual frameworks to interpret China’s foreign policy and global engagement. We will also consider the role of history and how key historical developments have shaped China’s international relations.

Part II: China’s evolving relations with the world

The second section examines China’s key relationships at the bilateral, regional and global level.

Part III: China’s role in global governance

The third section adopts a thematic and case-study analysis of China’s role in global governance. We will examine the extent to which China is supporting, resisting or establishing alternatives to the existing global governance architecture.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity4422 x 2 hours seminars
Guided Independent Study80Seminar preparation: complete assigned readings and other possible tasks
Guided Independent Study140Essay preparation: researching, reading and writing the essays
Guided Independent Study36Presentation preparation: researching, reading, and written and oral presentation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay outlines2 x 500 words7-9Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1403,500 words1-9Written
Essay 2403,500 words1-9Written
Individual Presentation2020 minutes1-6, 8-9Verbal and written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1 (40%)Essay 1 (3,500 words)1-9August/September reassessment period
Essay 2 (40%)Essay 2 (3,500 words)1-9August/September reassessment period
Presentation (20%)Individual written assignment, (2000 words)1-6, 8-9August/September reassessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Shaun Breslin (ed.) Handbook of China’s International Relations (London: Routledge, 2010).

Rosemary Foot and Andrew Walter, China, the United States, and Global Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

David Shambaugh, China Goes Global: The Partial Power (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

China, International Order, Global Governance.

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date