Global Politics of China

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof William A. Callahan CBG.9.05


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations and BSc in International Relations and Chinese. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

Course content

China has long been of interest to students of International Relations due to its historical role as the major power of East Asia, and its current status as a great power with influence in geopolitics, world trade, and global governance. The course lectures examine the development of China’s relations with the world in terms of history, culture, and policy-making, and consider how power works in various ways: economic power, military power, soft power, hard power, sharp power, propaganda, and United Front Work. The remainder of the course analyses case studies on China’s relations with the United States, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and on the topical issues of Chinese IR theory, grand strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative, the environment, global cyber-politics, and Chinese world orders (including analysing science fiction for China’s futuristic ‘galactic politics’).


10 hours of lectures and 12 hours of classes in the MT. 18 hours of classes in the LT.

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

Formative coursework

Students will complete two 1500-word essays during the course, and will make two presentations to the seminar. It is permissible for the presentations to be on the same topics as the essays.

Indicative reading

  • Economy, Elizabeth C., The World According to China, Oxford University Press, 2022.
  • Breslin, Shaun. China Risen? Studying Chinese Global Power, Bristol University Press, 2021.
  • Yahuda, Michael, The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific, 4 edn. London: Routledge, 2019.
  • Zhao, Suisheng, China’s Big Power Ambition under Xi Jinping: Narratives and Driving Forces, Routledge, 2021.


Essay (75%, 2500 words) in the ST.
Presentation (25%) in the MT and LT.

During the course of the seminars students will participate in a group presentation (25%) and submit a 2500 word essay (75%) at the start of the ST.

It is permissible for the summative essays to be on the same topic(s) as the formative essays and presentations.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

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

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills