• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, History, Asian Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies

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; and, where necessary, to challenge received interpretations of that history.

4. Deploy the analytic faculties necessary to produce and defend extended arguments, 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.

Other Information

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

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial debates – 20% (Related learning outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5)
Research presentation – 30% (Related learning outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 5)
Research essay – 50% (Related learning outcomes: 1, 2,  3, 4, 5)

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.


Weekly load of four hours: one -two -hour lectures and one two-hour tutorial, total workload for the course is 130 hours including independent study.

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with ASIA2044.

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.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2021 $3630
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5580
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7038 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 In-Person and Online View

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