HY489      Half Unit
China and the External World, 1644-1839

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ronald Chung Yam Po, SAR 2.18


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, 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 late seventeenth 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 Kangxi 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 annexation of Taiwan in 1683, a series of events further connected China to the external world: the bloody suppression of the Lhasa riots in 1750, 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” and challenge the common perception of China as isolated and always inward-looking.


Ten weekly two-hour seminar meetings in the Michaelmas Term, with a reading week in week 6.

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, Unruly People: Crime, Community, and State in Late Imperial South China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2016).

• 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).


Essay (70%, 4500 words) in January.
Presentation (15%) and class participation (15%) in the MT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

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