Global Politics of China

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof William A. Callahan CBG.9.05


This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in International Relations (Research). 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 from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high.

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, United Front Work, race and gender, and normative power. 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’).


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Autumn, Winter and Spring Term. Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy. 

Formative coursework

Students will complete two 2,000 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.


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

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2022/23: 29

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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