Postgraduate taught 

Human Rights & International Politics MSc/PgDip

China's International Politics POLITIC5020

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course gives students a broad but rigorous introduction to China's international politics. It will introduce students to the key foreign policy making institutions and actors in China today, the drivers of China's foreign policy in historical context, and major issues in contemporary China's foreign relations. The course will include discussion of such issues as national security, human rights, trade and environmental cooperation.


One two-hour seminar held weekly for 10 weeks.

Excluded Courses





1) a literature review of 2000-2,500 words (40%)

2) an essay of 3000-3500 words (60%)


Topics for the literature review and essay must be chosen from the list of questions posted on moodle at the start of term or agreed in advance with the course convener.

Course Aims

1. Introduce students to contemporary China's international politics;

2. Examine the key institutions and actors shaping China's contemporary foreign policy-making and some important issues in China's international policies today;

3. Consider and assess competing explanations of China's foreign policy;

4. Explore key issues in China's foreign relations


Weekly course topics

1. Introduction: history and ideas in Chinese foreign policy

2. the making of Chinese foreign policy

3. The military in China's international relations

4. China's soft power and hidden diplomacy

5. China's multilateral engagement

6. China and the United States

7. China, Africa and the developing world

8. China and the Asian region

9. China and Europe

10. China's rise and the international system


Selected Readings

Lampton, D. (ed) The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy (Stanford, 2001)

Lampton, D. Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing US-China Relations (California, 2001)

Lu, N. The Dynamics of Foreign Policy Decision Making in China (Westview, 1997)

Shambaugh, D. Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics (California, 2005)

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

--demonstrate informed knowledge of the key institutions and actors shaping China's foreign policy;

--explain the main determinants of China's foreign policy;

--critically assess different explanations of China's foreign policy;

--demonstrate understanding of the key issues in China's foreign relations.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.