GV4H1      Half Unit
Chinese Political Thought

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leigh Jenco CON4.13


This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at one group. The deadline for applying to the course is Friday 11 October 2013.

Course content

This course will introduce students to recurring debates and concepts within Chinese political thought, beginning with the seminal texts of the Warring States period (circa 400 BCE). Working from texts in translation, we will critically examine the variety of normative frameworks that have structured political thinking throughout 2000 years of Chinese history, including neo-Confucianism, Buddhism, and Communism. The goal of the course is to help students use Chinese thought to think critically and creatively about political and social life. Among the questions we will ask are: to what extent is Chinese thought a Confucian legacy only? Are there incompatible commitments within traditions of Chinese thinking, and how can these tensions be productive? Finally, what kinds of resources can Chinese thought bring to bear on contemporary ethical, political and economic dilemmas? This course is suitable for students interested in political theory, philosophical approaches to politics, Chinese studies, and/or the history of political thought. Readings are entirely in English and NO prior knowledge of Chinese or China is required.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

• One 300 word individual project on the topic “An Example of How Chinese Political Thought Applies in the World,” where students will have the opportunity to comment on their ideas in seminar/class discussion and via Moodle forums (where they will be encouraged to post their full project essay after I have marked it); • One question posted on the discussion forum on Moodle every week, 24 hours before the class meets; • One 1500 word formative essay 

Indicative reading

Ivanhoe, Philip J. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden. 2nd ed. Hackett Pub Co, 2006. Selections from De Bary, Wm. Theodore, and Richard John Lufrano. Sources of Chinese tradition. Vol. 2, From 1600 through the twentieth century. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Ivanhoe, Philip J. Readings from the Lu-Wang School of Neo-Confucianism. Hackett Pub Co, 2009.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication