IR473      Half Unit
China and the Global South

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Alden CBG.9.04


This course is available on the MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research) and MSc in International Relations Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


All students are required to obtain permission of the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application linked to LSE for You.  Admission to the course is not guaranteed.

Course content

This course focuses on the substantive role that China plays in the Global South where its preponderance of material power and putative developing country status confers upon it a dominant position in bilateral and regional political economies.  China's economic position, coupled to an astute use of finances flowing from its mercantilist policies, has enabled it to become the leading trading partner and a significant investor in the developing world.  Moreover, the Global South is increasingly figuring in Beijing's expanding security interests and soft power provisions.  Interpretations embedded in prevailing academic discussions like socialisation, threat and peaceful rise take on new meaning when studied through the lens of ties with developing countries.  Understanding how dynamics in this relationship are impacting upon a host of global and contemporary issues (BRICs, multilateralism, peacekeeping, the environment) is crucial to the shape of the 21st century.  Students will acquire a deeper appreciation of the concept of agency linked to the varied response of countries and regional organisations in the Global South, from policy elites to local communities, to China's growing structural power, as well as placing Chinese engagement within the context of other 'traditional' and emerging powers.  This will offer a deeper analysis of the way in which the dynamics of China's economic and political model impact on its relationship with the Global South.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. 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 1 essay in the MT.

Essay length 1500 words


Indicative reading

Ariel Ahram, 'Theory and Method of Quaitative Area Studies', Qualitative Research (11:1 2011), pp. 69-90

Chris Alden and Chris R Hughes, 'Harmony, Discord and Learning in China's Foreign Policy, China Quarterly, Special Issue (No.9 December 2009), pp.13-34

Chris Alden, 'China and Africa - The Relationship Matures', Strategic Analysis (36:5 2012), pp.701-707

Kevin Gallagher, The China Triangle: Latin America's China Boom and the Fate of the Washington Consensus (OUP:2016)

Arthur R Kroeber, China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know (OUP: 2016)

Barry Naughton, 'China's Distinctive System: Can it be a Model for Others?' Journal of Contemporary China (19:65: 2010), pp.437-460

Michael Pettis, Avoiding the Fall: China's Economic Restructuring (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 2013)

David Shambaugh, China Goes Global: The Partial Power (OUP: 2014)

Ian Taylor, Africa Rising? BRICs and Diversifiying Dependency (James Currey: 2014)

Carol Wise and Margaret Myers (eds), The Political Economy of China-Latin America Relations in the New Millennium: Brave New World (Routledge: 2016)


Essay (80%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) in the MT.

During the course of the seminars students will participate in a group presentation (20%) and submit a 4,000 word essay (80%) at the start of the LT.


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 Relations

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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