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Study information

China of the Senses: Approaching Chinese Culture and Environments

Module titleChina of the Senses: Approaching Chinese Culture and Environments
Module codeMLM1010
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Yue Zhuang (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This introductory module offers a unique 'sensory' approach to Chinese culture, society and history. It is a guided tour through the Chinese senses - seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling - as well as the various environments - ideal (e.g. paintings), material (e.g. cities), and social (e.g. festivals) - that embody and enact these senses. This module navigates from Chinese ideograms (written characters), arts, literature, philosophy, to customs, politics, and everyday life; from the past to the present, examining how senses and environments shaped and were shaped by Chinese culture, society and history. There are no pre-requisites or co-requisites. This module is suitable for specialists and non-specialists and recommended for interdisciplinary pathways.

Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module, you will:

  • Develop an awareness of the social and cultural background of the Chinese senses and environments
  • Grasp the social and cultural values that are associated with Chinese senses and environments
  • Develop an understanding of how the senses and environments and their associated values shaped Chinese cultural sensibility
  • Understand some of the ways in which the Chinese have experienced, investigated and constructed their environments through history

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of Chinese ways of sensing and their associated social and cultural values with respect to chosen texts, images and films, drawn from diverse periods of Chinese culture
  • 2. Demonstrate familiarity with Chinese environments and key aspects of their sensory associations in certain social contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Summarise and evaluate, under guidance from the module tutor(s), key critical responses to the topic and apply standard critical approaches to the material
  • 4. Make constructive comparisons between aspects of the target culture and your own
  • 5. Read and analyse passages from texts/images/films in English translation, relating them to specified aspects of your socio-cultural, historical and generic context
  • 6. Use a reading list to identify material relevant to a given aspect of the subject, and report findings both orally and in writing

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Assimilate, select and organise material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument
  • 8. Demonstrate basic word-processing skills

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Following an introduction in the first week, there will be nine themed lectures dedicated to the five senses and their related cultural forms and environments, e.g. tasting (food culture), seeing (visual art), hearing (music), smell (fragrance) and feeling (martial art).

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 Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 5Seminars
Guided Independent Study135Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Book/film review500 words1-8Oral and written feedback provided

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
Examination1001.5 hours1-5Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-5Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: 

  • Waley, Arthur. The Analects of Confucius, London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1938.
  • Chang, Kwang-chih; Anderson, E. N. et al, Food in Chinese Culture: anthropological and historical perspectives, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. 
  • Minford, John & Lau, Joseph S.M. ed., Classical Chinese Literature: an anthology of translations, Chichester: Columbia U
  • Keswick, Maggie; Jencks, Charles, The Chinese Garden: history, art & architecture, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2003. 

The remaining texts/films will be confirmed nearer the start of term.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

China, senses, environments, culture, history

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date