Not available in 2020/21
EH409      Half Unit
Chinese Economy in Transition: 1850-1950

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Debin Ma SAR 612


This course is available on the MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in International and Asian History and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Course content: This course provides a broad but selective survey of over 100 years of economic change in China leading towards the rise of the new Communist regime in 1950. With emphasis on the importance of ideological and institutional changes, the course gives in-depth coverage of some major debates and case studies on historical turning points such as the opening of China in mid-19th century, the collapse of Qing in 1911, economic transformation during China’s Republican period. The course showcases the critical relevance of a long-term perspective on understanding both the constraints and capacity of Chinese economy to respond to past and future challenges and offers unique historical perspectives on the origin of Chinese modernization as well as the grand economic transformation during the past three decades.


20 hours of seminars in the MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the MT.

Indicative reading

  • Naughton. B., The Chinese economy, transitions and growth (MIT Press);
  • Rawski. T., Economic growth in prewar China (Univ. of Berkeley Press); 
  • Richardson, P. Economic change in China, c. 1800-1950 (Cambridge University Press);
  • Spence, J.D The search for modern China (New York : W.W. Norton);
  • Brandt, Ma and Rawski “From Divergence to Convergence, Revaluating the History Behind China’s Boom” Journal of Economic Literature March 2014.
  • Perkins, D. (ed.) (1975) China’s Modern Economy in Historical Perspective. Stanford University Press.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills