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HI31C - China Encounters the Wider World (1550-1800)

  • Module code: HI31C
  • Module name: China Encounters the Wider World (1550-1800)
  • Department: History
  • Credit: 30

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

China’s involvement with the wider world has traditionally been characterised as hostile to interaction and innovation, isolationist, and xenophobic. This module encourages students to question these stereotypes. China’s official rhetoric of cultural superiority and disdain for trade masks an enduring engagement with the outside world and ongoing trading activities. Long before the encounter with the West in the nineteenth century, China exported its people, its manufactured goods, and its cultural heritage throughout East and Southeast Asia. Throughout its history, Chinese culture was profoundly altered by the exposure to the non-Chinese world in the form of material goods and the intellectual and religious ideas brought by artists, monks, and merchants. In the period from 1550 to 1850, or from the late Ming to the high Qing, China encountered the wider world both within and outside its own borders. The focus of this advanced module is the nature of that encounter and China’s dynamic engagement with the wider world.

Principal learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students should be able to: understand and critically evaluate the history of China’s encounters with the wider world during the period 1550 to 1850; critically assess a wide range of secondary and primary materials related to China’s encounters with the wider world between 1550 and 1850; assess how they have gained a further development of study, writing, and communication skills; access and use the wealth of information and resources on the World Wide Web.

Timetabled teaching activities

There will be 17 seminars, each one hour and 45 minutes long.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
30 CATS (Module code: HI31C-30)
B (Examination only) Examination - Main Summer Exam Period (weeks 4-9) 100%
Assessed Course Work 50%
Examination - Main Summer Exam Period (weeks 4-9) 50%
Assessed Course Work 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Undergraduate French and History (R1VA) - Year 4
  • Undergraduate History and Italian (R3V2) - Year 4