• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

This course deals with key aspects of culture, media and discourse in China since 1949. It does not assume prior knowledge of China or the Chinese language.  The course has two interrelated parts.  In the first part, it examines the most colossal attempt at 'mind control' in human history – the attempt by the Communist Party between 1949 and 1978 to create new, revolutionary human beings by imposing centralised control of language and discourse.  What were the origins of this attempt?  How did it affect people's behaviour? How did it affect Chinese culture?  And how successful was it in changing people’s ideas and values?  In the second part of the course it will explore the enormous changes that have occurred since the beginning of the Reform Era in 1978.  Why did Deng and his successors relax controls over language and discourse?  What social and economic changes have encouraged the emergence of new discourses and cultural forms?  What opportunities have been created by the explosive growth of the internet?  How does the government continue to regulate the media and manipulate public debate?  How have people sought to get around the restrictions?  What critical discourses still manage to flourish?  And why, when so many things have changed in China, does the Chinese Communist Party still use the traditional language of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought? The answers to questions like these offer many insights into continuity and change in China since 1949.

Learning Outcomes

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

 Upon successful completion of the course, students should have the skills and knowledge to:

  1. Explain elements of change and continuity in the expressive and coercive roles of discourse in China since 1949. 
  2. Understand the purpose and function of Chinese official discourse, and have an enhanced ability to decode it.
  3. Use relevant concepts to analyse examples of Chinese discourse, linking them to their political, economic and social contexts.
  4. Locate source material on Chinese discourse, then use that material to construct an argument that contributes to a better understanding of China.

Other Information

This is a co-taught course. Any cap on enrolments in one course applies to both courses combined.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial contribution 10%.  This includes two parts:
  1. Submitting five reading summaries as evidence of having read the assigned reading materials 5%
  2. Active participation in tutorial discussions 5%.

2. Oral presentation 20%

    The oral presentation is based on the readings assigned for the course. It will be conducted at tutorials.

    The duration for each oral presentation is 15 minutes, followed by five minutes’ of questions from the audience.

3. Essay 30%

    The word limit is 2,000 words.  Essay topics will be available on Wattle.

4. Final exam 40%   

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.


Three hours per week - 2 hour lecture plus 1 hour tutorial.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 24 units of university courses. This course is incompatible with ASIA6014.

Prescribed Texts

There is no textbook for this course. Reading materials for tutorials will be made available on Wattle.

Assumed Knowledge

This course is taught in English.  Students enrolled in this course do not have to have knowledge of China or of the Chinese language.




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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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