• Class Number 7038
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In-Person and Online
    • Dr Mark Strange
    • Dr Mark Strange
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

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:

  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.

Required Resources

The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600

Author: Hansen, Valerie

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.

Edition: 2000

Notes: students should read the relevant sections of this book in parallel with the lectures. It is advisable to complete the assigned readings by the beginning of each section of the course ('Introductions', 'Early Imperial China', 'Medieval China', and 'Late Imperial China'). Specific page numbers appear in the lecture schedule.

The Elements of Style

Author: Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B.

Publisher: Macmillan

Edition: 3rd edn., 1979 (or later editions)

Notes: this short guide is relevant not to the content of this course but to one of its learning outcomes, the development of a good writing style. It will therefore be of general relevance, but it will be of particular use as an aid for the written assignments in this course. Students should refer to its guidelines before producing and submitting written work.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 INTRODUCTIONS Reading: Hansen, The Open Empire, pp.28-95
2 Lecture - Week 1.1: Definitions
3 Lecture - Week 1.2: Political Foundations of Empire
4 EARLY IMPERIAL CHINA Reading: Hansen, The Open Empire, pp.97-149
5 Lecture - Week 2.1: Belief: Establishment of Confucianism Quiz 1
6 Lecture - Week 2.2: Ritual: Cosmological and ritual bases of empire
7 Lecture - Week 3.1: Kinship: Ancestors and the household
8 Lecture - Week 3.2: Foreign relations: Xiongnu
9 Lecture - Week 4.1: Communication: Writing Tutorial debate
10 Lecture - Week 4.2: Material Culture: Tomb art Research essay question due
11 MEDIEVAL CHINA Reading: Hansen, The Open Empire, pp.153-258
12 Lecture - Week 5.1: Belief: Religious Daoism and Buddhism Quiz 2
13 Lecture - Week 5.2: Ritual: Ritual and legitimacy
14 Lecture - Week 6.1: Kinship: Aristocracy and the state
15 Lecture - Week 6.2: Foreign relations: Rhetoric and reality Research essay proposal due
16 Teaching break
17 Lecture - Week 7.1: Communication: Paper
18 Lecture - Week 7.2: Material Culture: Impact of Buddhism Annotated bibliography due
19 LATE IMPERIAL CHINA Reading: Hansen, The Open Empire, pp.261-297, 335-407
20 Lecture - Week 8.1: Belief: Syncretism and Neo-Confucianism Quiz 3
21 Lecture - Week 8.2: Ritual: Localization of ritual
22 Lecture - Week 9.1: Kinship: Development of a Chinese diaspora
23 Lecture - Week 9.2: Foreign relations: Alternative world orders and trade
24 Lecture - Week 10.1: Communication: Printing Tutorial debate
25 Lecture - Week 10.2: Material Culture: Porcelain and global Chinese culture
26 Weeks 11-12: final essay Quiz 4; research presentation

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quizzes 0 % 30/10/2022 30/10/2022 1, 2, 3
Tutorial debates 20 % 13/10/2022 01/12/2022 1, 3, 4, 5
Research presentation 20 % 21/10/2022 24/10/2022 1, 2, 3, 5
Research essay 60 % 30/10/2022 01/12/2022 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Though no marks are allocated for participation in the course, tutorial attendance and participation are considered a crucial part of the education of ANU students. They are also closely related to participants' capacity to fulfil the course's other assessment requirements. Course participants will therefore be expected to contribute in an active and constructive manner to all discussions.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 30/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3


Course participants will sit four short quizzes at regular intervals over the semester to consolidate general factual knowledge about imperial China. They will complete these quizzes on-line, in their own time. They will have one week in which to complete each quiz. Quizzes will be based on the content of lectures and on supplementary documents supplied on the course's Wattle site. Their aim is to consolidate factual knowledge on which course participants might base the written and oral arguments required by other assessment items.

All quizzes are considered hurdle assessments: the results of quizzes will not contribute directly towards the final grade, but course participants must pass the quizzes to complete the course.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 13/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 01/12/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5

Tutorial debates

Two formal debates, in various formats, will take place in tutorials. Again, the debates will complement the topic of each participant's research essay. The debates will encourage participants to respond in spontaneous fashion both to challenges to their own scholarship and to arguments proposed by others. All participants will be expected to contribute in an active manner, to demonstrate and develop skills of argumentation. Each debate will contribute to 10% of the total grade for the course—a total of 20%.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 21/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 24/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 5

Research presentation

Course participants will give a 20-minute presentation, open to members of the University community, on the topic of their research essay. They will also be expected to answer

questions from their audience for up to 10 minutes. Presentations should address three areas: first, an outline of the research questions and methodological approaches; second, a critical analysis of some of the secondary scholarship on the relevant topic; third, a demonstration of, and engagement with, the main empirical data. Though the basic materials covered will be largely the same as those in the research essay, attention should be paid to the differences between of oral and written modes of communication.

The presentation will have two broad aims. It will give students a chance to test the research findings for their final essay. Feedback offered during the question-and-answer session may help students to refine the content and form of their final essay. More basically, it will also give experience in presenting research in an academic setting; the form of the presentation will be that of a seminar or a conference paper.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 30/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 01/12/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research essay

All course participants will submit a long research essay. They will choose a topic in consultation with the course convenor. The essay will demonstrate participants' 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:

a) a research question will be due in Week 4. This will be unassessed, but it will provide the foundation for the essay proposal.

b) an essay proposal of no more than 500 words will be due in Week 6. This will contribute to 10% of the total grade for the course.

c) an annotated bibliography on a selection of the major sources used for the essay. This will contribute to 10% of the total grade for the course.

c) a final draft of no more than 4000 words will be due in Week 12. This will contribute to 40% of the total grade for the course.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

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.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Mark Strange

Research Interests

Dr Mark Strange

Thursday 12:00 13:00
Friday 12:00 13:00
Dr Mark Strange
+61 (02) 6125 2993

Research Interests

Dr Mark Strange

Thursday 12:00 13:00
Friday 12:00 13:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions