About this Course

This course explores the history of China from the disintegration of the Tang empire at the turn of the tenth century to the eve of the country’s modern transformation. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the political, socio-economic, and cultural changes in later imperial China and to initiate them to the art and techniques of historical analysis. This course challenges the stereotype of a monolithic and static China and encourages students to develop a critical understanding of the internal and external forces integrating and dividing this geo-cultural unit.

Course Structure

This course will include both synchronous and asynchronous learning components. The weekly synchronous sessions will meet via Zoom on Tuesdays from 16:30 to 18:20 (Pacific Time).

Students are expected to have reviewed and reflected on the assigned materials (including both the primary sources and secondary scholarship) prior to each week’s synchronous session. Special emphasis will be placed on the reading and analysis of different kinds of primary documents.

The weekly synchronous sessions will function both as lectures and tutorials; we will review the key themes of the week and discuss the assigned materials, both as a class and in small break-out groups.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the term, students should be able to:

  • discuss in an informed manner the unity and diversity, changes and continuities, of Chinese society;
  • gain a greater sense of confidence in analyzing and working with primary sources;
  • identify and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of historical claims.

Assessment of Learning

For more details on the individual components, see the Assessment section.

Quizzes 10%
Discussion Posts 15%
Attendance/Participation 10%
Short Reflection Essays 15%
Mid-term Checkup 10%
Book Review 20%
Take-home Examination 20%
Research Project (optional) 40%

Important Dates (Pacific Time)

Jan. 12 First session
Jan. 22 Last date to withdraw without the “W” standing
Feb. 15–19 Reading Week
Feb. 19 Bibliography due
Feb. 22–26 Mid-term checkup
Mar. 12 Last date to withdraw
Apr. 1 Book review due
Apr. 13 Last session
Apr. 27 Take-home exam/Research project due

Learning Materials

All required readings are available online.

Learning Lounge/Office Hours

No doubt you will have questions. Outside of class time, there are three ways to get them answered.

First, a Learning Lounge has been set up under Discussions in Canvas for students to post—and answer each other’s—questions. The instructor will “drop in” at least once a week to see if there are outstanding questions. Respectful netiquette is expected and appreciated.

Second, you may contact the instructor (preferred to be addressed as Dr. Shin or Prof. Shin) via Canvas or by email. The usual response time is within 24 hours (except for weekends and holidays).

Third, office hours are on Wednesdays by appointment. Students are strongly encouraged to check in with the instructor, particularly early on during the term, to make sure all is on track.

Academic Freedom and Safety

During this pandemic, the shift to online learning has greatly altered teaching and studying at UBC, including changes to health and safety considerations. Keep in mind that some UBC courses might cover topics that are censored or considered illegal by non-Canadian governments. This may include, but is not limited to, human rights, representative government, defamation, obscenity, gender or sexuality, and historical or current geopolitical controversies. If you are a student living abroad, you will be subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction, and your local authorities might limit your access to course material or take punitive action against you. UBC is strongly committed to academic freedom, but has no control over foreign authorities (please visit http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=3,33,86,0 for an articulation of the values of the University conveyed in the Senate Statement on Academic Freedom). Thus, we recognize that students will have legitimate reason to exercise caution in studying certain subjects. If you have concerns regarding your personal situation, consider postponing taking a course with manifest risks, until you are back on campus or reach out to your academic advisor to find substitute courses. For further information and support, please visit: http://academic.ubc.ca/support-resources/freedom-expression.

Students who are concerned about some of the risks mentioned are encouraged to consult the instructor as soon as possible.


UBC’s Point Grey Campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. The land it is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam people, who for millennia have passed on their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site.