spring 2022
STV-2013 The Politics of China - 10 ECTS

Last changed 20.05.2022

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

This course is optional, and can be taken as a singular course.  

Admission requirements

Nordic applicants: Generell studiekompetanseInternational applicants: Higher Education Entrance Qualification and certified language requirements in English.A list of the requirements for the Higher Education Entrance Qualification in Norway can be found on the web site from the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). For language requirements we refer to NOKUT's GSU-list.Application code: 9199 (Nordic applicants).

Course content

In the space of seventy years, the People’s Republic of China has evolved from a closed, minor player in international politics to a great power and potential global power, having overcome myriad internal and external obstacles to its development. Although much of China’s internal politics have evolved significantly over time as the country emerged from a closed governmental system and a command economy, the Chinese state has retained many features left over from the Maoist era of the mid-twentieth century.

Today, Beijing is seeking to reconcile its communist past with numerous modern challenges to the party-state, including swift but uneven economic growth, internal socio-economic divides, bureaucratic reform, civil-military relations, the building of a modern legal system, and the ongoing question of modernising the party. All of these processes are taking place within an international system which is experiencing a ‘return’ of great power politics, and the possible breaking down of Western-dominated regimes.

This course will examine these pressing issues within the framework of comparative politics and international relations theories, including traditional materialist approaches such as modernisation, governmental transitions, and realism, but also critical approaches which look at the shifting role of Marxism and debates over economic and market reform, the roles of minority actors, and ‘made-in-China’ applications such as fragmented authoritarianism and neo-traditionalism. At a time when China is assuming a more prominent role in global affairs, the need to understand the country’s political frameworks and structures has become more pressing. The class will include debates over Chinese foreign policy issues including relations with the United States and Europe, as well as its emerging holistic great power diplomacy. This course will complement existing classes in introductory politics and international relations, and make use of empirical and theoretical approaches to provide students with a comprehensive overview of China’s distinct political system.

Objectives of the course

The students have the following learning outcomes:


The student has:

- Developed an understanding of post-1949 Chinese political history

- An understanding of how the case of China fits into traditional and modern empirical and theoretical studies of political science

- knowledge to understand and survey the main actors and agencies of the modern Chinese government and state in a comparative manner


The student is able to/can:

- Critically examine and debate the major political, social and economic issues facing China today

- Connect Chinese domestic politics with its expanding foreign policy interests.

The lecture and assignment structures of the course will be designed to address the above requirements.

Language of instruction

Language of instruction and examination is English.

Teaching methods

Contingent on global health events, this course will be based on both lectures and small seminars on specific topics related to Chinese politics and foreign policy, including debates and discussions. There will be 20 hours of lectures/seminars.

Information to incoming exchange students

This course is open for inbound exchange students and has no academic prerequisites to be added to your Learning Agreement.

Do you have questions about this module? Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty: INBOUND STUDENT MOBILITY: COURSE COORDINATORS AT THE FACULTIES | UiT


Coursework requirements

The following coursework requirements must be completed and approved in order to take the final exam:

The successful completion of a paper based on course lectures and course readings. The paper will have a limit of 2500 words, students have the option of writing as a pair, in which case the combined paper will be about 3000 words. Potential topics will be given well in advance of the assignment due date, and students will be given one week to complete the assignment.


- One 6-hour school exam which will use both short definitions and essay questions which will address arguments regarding issues in Chinese politics. The students will receive an outline of the final exam well before the exam date.

The exam will be assessed on an A-F grades scale. Grades are A-E for passed and F for failed.

Retake is offered in in the beginning of the following semester in cases of grade F or Fail. Deferred examination is offered in the beginning of the following semester if the student is unable to take the final exam due to illness or other exceptional circumstances. Registration deadline for retake is 15th January for autumn semester exams and 15th August for spring semester exams.


  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: STV-2013