Not available in 2022/23
China and the External World, 1711-1839

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Chung Yam Po SAR 2.18


This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course provides a critical overview of the history of Qing China from the early eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, tracing political, institutional, cultural, and social continuities and changes, particularly in China’s land and maritime frontiers. Beginning in the Qianlong period, the Qing Empire became involved in an ever-growing network of commerce and cultural exchange, extending from Manchuria to Inner Asia, and from the East Sea to the Indian Ocean. Following the bloody suppression of the Lhasa riots in 1750, a series of events further connected China to the external world: the infamous Dzungar genocide, European encroachment in Asian seas, the rise of port cities in Southeast Asia that were dominated by Chinese entrepreneurs, and increasing tension between China and Western powers over sea lanes and maritime boundaries. This course will use China’s shifting frontiers as a fulcrum to re-examine Chinese history in the modern era, factoring in the movement of people, commodities, ideas, cultural meanings, and imaginaries, which clearly indicate “China’s outwardness.” This challenges the common perception of China as isolated and inward-looking.


Students will engage with class content in large and small group meetings. Learning engagement will include live sessions, small group meetings, asynchronous moodle posts, video clips, and short presentations.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Michaelmas and the Lent Terms.

Formative coursework

One formative essay in the Michaelmas Term.

Indicative reading

Mark C. Elliot, Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World (New York: Longman, 2009).

Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009).

John. E. Wills, China and Maritime Europe, 1500-1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Robert Antony, Like Froth Floating on the Sea: The World of Pirates and Seafarers in Late Imperial South China (Berkeley, Calif.: Institute of East Asian Studies, 2003).

Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Eric Tagliacozzo, Helen F. Siu, Peter C. Perdue, Asia Inside Out: Connected Places (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015).

Ronald C. Po, The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Timothy Brook, Great State: China and the World (London: Profile Books, 2019).

William Rowe, China’s Last Empire: The Great Qing (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2009)


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (15%) in the MT and LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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