HY235GC      Half Unit
Modernity and the State in East Asia: China, Japan and Korea since 1840 (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Antony Best SAR 3.14


This course is available to General Course ‘Spring Semester’ students.

Course content

The course is concerned with providing a comparative political history of the major East Asian countries, China, Japan and Korea, in the period from the Chinese Civil War to the 1990s. The course concentrates on the aftermath of the Second World War for East Asia, studying the Chinese Civil War and the emergence of the People's Republic, the course and legacy of the US occupation of Japan and the formation of the two Koreas. The last part of the course covers the development of the People's Republic under Mao and Deng, the rise of Japan as an economic superpower the emergence of South Korea and Taiwan as economic powers, and the history of North Korea.


Students will engage with lecture content through recorded lectures and external content, as well as through live Q&A sessions.

Students will engage with class content in a variety of ways, including live sessions, small group meetings, asynchronous moodle posts, and short presentations.

This course has an online option in addition to being taught in the class room.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of the Lent term. 

Formative coursework

Students will be required to submit two 2000-word essays.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be issued at the start of the course, but the following survey texts are essential: W G Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan; P Duus (Ed), The Cambridge History of Japan: The Twentieth Century; L Eastman (Ed), The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949; J L McLain, Japan: A Modern History; R MacFarquhar (Ed), The Politics of China, 1949-1989; A Buzo, The Making of Modern Korea; J Spence, The Search for Modern China.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

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: International History

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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