• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Mark Strange
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

Much of the world's history has been shaped by experiences of empires. Even after the collapse of the major historic imperial powers during the second half of the twentieth century, the legacies of those empires continue to shape contemporary life. And historians and political analysts still talk in terms of - and seek to redefine - imperialism in reference to present polities. 


China is central to such discourses on imperial power: it offers a particularly rich body of historical evidence for the practice of empire. This introductory course will therefore assess that evidence and survey the great drama of Chinese attempts to bring under single control and preserve the unity of its vast territories, so varied ethnically, culturally, and geographically. It will take in the full sweep of China’s imperial past: it will start in the third century BC, when the foundations of the imperial system were consolidated; it will reach into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when encounters with Western powers forced a radical reappraisal of the Chinese imperial system. Dividing this broad chronological scope into three periods - early China, medieval China, and late imperial China - it will offer a sense of larger changes and continuities over time. Within each period, it will bring into sharp focus the social, cultural, and political arenas in which Chinese empire was developed and maintained.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:


1. Identify the major themes and issues in imperial Chinese history.

2. Apply a broad theoretical knowledge of Chinese history and historiography to specific empirical examples.

3. Demonstrate the critical skills necessary to locate, synthesise, and interpret information on imperial Chinese history, from a variety of sources.

4. Deploy the analytic faculties necessary to produce and defend an argument, with particular relation to the key concepts and bodies of learning in imperial Chinese history.

5. Show skills of communication, both through oral presentations and written assignments, that enable the explication of research findings to an audience of contemporaries

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial participation - 10%

(Related learning outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4)

[Students will be expected to contribute in an active and constructive manner to tutorial discussion. On the basis of background readings and independent empirical research, they will be able to engage in discussion with both the tutor and their classmates on the interpretations of the key themes of imperial Chinese history.]


Tutorial presentations and debates - 10%

(Related learning outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5)

[Students will be expected to produce one tutorial presentation during the course to demonstrate their ability to communicate orally their research findings on an assigned topic. This will complement their research essay. Two formal debates, in various formats, will also take place in tutorials; all students will be expected to participate in order to demonstrate and develop skills of argumentation. The debates will encourage students' to respond in more spontaneous fashion both to challenges to their own scholarship and to arguments proposed by others.]


Research essay (2,500 words) - 40%

(Related learning outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

[A research essay will be required from all students in Week 11. Its aim is to draw together all of the course's main learning outcomes but, above all, to demonstrate the ability to produce a sustained argument in writing. The overall mark of the essay will be divided among several components, each due for submission in incremental stages during the course: an essay proposal; an essay plan; a final draft.]


Final examination - 40%

(Related learning outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

[Students will have three hours to produce three essays in response to a selection of questions. Questions will be divided equally into three sections to reflect the three chronological periods that structure the course. Students will choose one question from each section, to display their grasp of the full span of imperial Chinese history. Equal marks will be available for each question.]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course requires three contact hours per week (two lectures and one tutorial) and from six to ten hours per week outside the contact hours.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of any courses.

Prescribed Texts

Hansen, Valerie, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000.

Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B., The Elements of Style, New York: Macmillan, 3rd edn., 1979 (or later editions)

Supplementary materials will appear on Wattle.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1218
2014 $2808
2013 $2808
2012 $2808
2011 $2778
2010 $2718
2009 $2670
2008 $2592
2007 $2298
2006 $2190
2005 $2190
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3402
2014 $3942
2013 $3942
2012 $3942
2011 $3942
2010 $3942
2009 $3816
2008 $3816
2007 $3816
2006 $3816
2005 $3816
2004 $3816
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4478 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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