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Honoursmodule: China, the Rising Power


Ardi Bouwers

Entry requirements 

For 2nd or 3rd year honours students only. 

Recommended prior knowledge

Follow China in the news.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course the student can:

  • Describe the most important political, economic, social and cultural developments in China in the 21st Century.
  • Identify dilemmas concerning China’s economic and political rise, differentiating between a Western and a Chinese perspective.
  • Analyze different scenarios for China’s future.
  • Formulate and defend a position on China’s future, from a political, social or economic perspective and from the perspective of their own discipline.


China’s rise is one of the most important developments of the 21st century. Chances are that you will study in China or work with Chinese people in the future. As the Beijing leadership presents itself in an increasingly assertive manner on the world stage, the number two economy of the world cannot be ignored anymore. Some call it Amazing China, others Dystopian China. There seems to be no room for middle ground in discussions.

This course will provide you with the necessary background on contemporary China to form your own opinion. We will identify dilemmas concerning China’s rise from both Western and Chinese perspectives. We will discuss questions such as: What is the Century of Humiliation? How successful is the Belt and Road Initiative? Copycat culture or Chinese innovation? How is China governed? Will the Communist Party survive? Are Hong Kong and China still two separate entities? What is the role of propaganda and of social media? Will China become world leader in the field of Artificial Intelligence? In 2049, 100 years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, will the country be the Number One world leader? After considering these issues, we will produce and assess wide-ranging scenarios for mid-21st century China.

Guest speakers will be: Bei Wang (expert on Chinese media) and Kathleen Ferrier (on Hong Kong). 

Class contents

  • Seminars
  • Presentation
  • Selfstudy
  • Work independently on project / thesis


  • Active participation (individual)
  • Formulate critical questions before each class (individual).
  • Group presentation on different scenarios for China in 2049 (groups of 2 or 3).
  • Essay elaborating on a scenario of your choice (individual).

Min/max participants

max. 25


The schedule will be available on Datanose

Study material

  • Elizabeth Economy (2019), The Third Revolution, Xi Jinping and the new Chinese state, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0190866075 Cost: approximately € 17.
  • Newspaper articles and thinktank reports.


Registration is possible for 2nd year (or higher) students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on June 1, 10 am -  June 4, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS (registration is NOT through SIS)

Placement will be at random and students will be informered about their placement in the week of June 21.

There is NO guarantee for placement if you register AFTER June 4, so make sure you apply on time! 

For questions about registration please email to: Honours-iis@uva.nl 


SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission
Starts in September