Modern China: An Introduction

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
HIST 2250
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
HIST 2250, Modern China: An Introduction, examines the development of modern China from the Qing dynasty to the People's Republic of China. The major themes are economic and political crisis under imperial, republican, communist regimes, modernization of Chinese society, and Chinese-western relations. Topics include Qing rule, opium wars, Taiping rebellion, self-strengthening and revolution in 1911, the Guomindang (Nationalist) ascendancy, the anti-Japanese and civil wars, emigration, Taiwan, and the Mao and Deng eras in the People's Republic (from the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to Market Socialism).
Course Content

A sample course outline may include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. Introduction
  2. Dynastic China and the Ming-Qing Transition
  3. The Qing Empire and the Arrival of the West
  4. Crises Without and Within: Opium Wars to the Taiping
  5. Deepening Crises, Reform or Revolution?
  6. From Warlordism to Reunification
  7. The Nationalist Republic of China
  8. China at War, from Japan to Civil War
  9. The People’s Republic
  10. The Cultural Revolution
  11. Deng, Market Socialism, Tiananmen
  12. The New China; the Other China: Taiwan
  13. Hong Kong and the Overseas Chinese
  14. Debating China’s Future
Learning Activities

Classroom instruction will include both lectures and seminar discussions. Lectures will provide instruction on weekly topics with opportunities for student inquiry and discussion. Seminars will encourage active class participation in the analysis of assigned primary and secondary readings. Classroom instruction may also include facilitation of student-led projects, student presentations on specific readings and/or topics, and other types of student-led activities. Classroom instruction may also include tutorials and workshops on transferrable skills, including research methods, academic citation practice, and presentation skills.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

  • Participation, Seminar Discussions, In-Class Work: 15%
  • Primary Document Analyses: 10%
  • Book Review Essay: 10%
  • Midterm Exam: 15%
  • Research Proposal: 10%
  • Research Essay: 20%
  • Final Exam: 20%
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).

2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).

3. Participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).

4. Independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history).

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Course Readers will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically.

An instructor’s custom Course Reader may be required. Additional online resources may also be assigned, and links to specific resources may be provided in the course outline.

Atwill, D. and Atwill, Y. Sources in Chinese History. New Jersey: Pearson, 2010.

Chan, Anita. Chen Village. 3rd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

Desnoyers, C.A. Patterns of Modern Chinese History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Ellman, B. and Paine, S.C.M.Modern China. New Jersey: Pearson, 2010.

Fairbank, J.K. and Goldman, M. China: A New History. 2nd enlarged ed. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2006.

Schoppa, R. K. Revolution and Its Past: Identities and Change in Modern Chinese History. 3rd ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.

Schoppa, R. K. Twentieth Century China: A History in Documents. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Spence, J. The Search for Modern China. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2001.



One 1000-level History course, or permission of the instructor





Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 2250
Athabasca University (AU) AU HIST 3XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU HIST 2XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG ASIA 2270 (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC HIST 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HIST 255 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HIST 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU HIST 3XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO HIST 214 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ASIA 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 205 (3) or UNBC HIST 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HIST 235 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC HSTR 265B (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU HIST 240 (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2023