Politics of China


With over 1.3 billion residents, China is the world’s largest country by population and home to the oldest continuous human civilisation. It is the fastest growing national economy, the second largest producer of carbon emissions, the last major communist state and accounts for more than half of all people living under authoritarian rule (about 55-60 percent).

In addition to its significance for the world, China is also of pivotal importance to political scientists. Its rapid economic growth, the apparent resilience of its vanguard party, newly emerging patterns of governance and sometimes violent forms of social mobilisation have transformed China into a rich laboratory for the study of politics, one in which many longstanding theories are now being re-evaluated.

This course is designed to introduce students to the central issues, institutions and actors in contemporary Chinese politics, with a particular focus on changes since 1978. Its main goal, however, is to enhance understandings of basic political science concepts and approaches. As such, the course examines China in comparative perspective and regards the country as a valuable source of knowledge about politics in other developing non-democracies.

By the end of the course, students should be able to provide an informed assessment of China’s development, contrast its politics with that of other states and make well-grounded judgements about its future. The course also gives students an opportunity to build their analytical and writing skills, providing a foundation for more advanced studies in politics.


Coursework + Exam

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024


Lecturer(s) Dr Stephen Noakes


Governance and Politics of China (Tony Saich)


Coursework and exam


POLITICS 211: 15 points


30 points at Stage I in Politics and International Relations, or POLITICS 106 and ASIAN 100, or CHINESE 130 and ASIAN 100