Fall 2021 - POL 300 D100

Selected Topics: Comparative Politics (4)

Challenge of Change: China

Class Number: 4242

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2021
    10:00 AM – 10:00 AM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in Political Science or permission of the department.



Selected Topic
The Challenge of Change: China

This course provides an introduction to China’s political and economic development. There are three broad themes to the class: (a) a historical overview; (b) political institutions and policymaking; and (c) the challenges of governance. We begin with an overview of important events in Chinese politics and economics from 1949 to the present. The course then turns to the political institutions and structures of governance established with the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the evolution of these institutions in the post-Mao reform era. The final third of the class examines contemporary challenges in the governance of a range of issues in China, from the environment and inequality. If time permits we will also look at the security dimension that China faces in the region.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, students should:

  1. Be familiar with and able to describe the key empirical characteristics of major events and key figures in modern Chinese political development;
  2. Have an understanding of major theoretical frameworks used to explain political change in modern China;
  3. Recognise competing viewpoints and approaches in the analysis of Chinese politics and be able to adjudicate between these perspectives; and
  4. Develop their own analysis of key issues in Chinese politics by applying a theoretical framework and supporting their argument with solid evidence.


  • Class attendance and Seminar Presentation 20%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Research Paper 30%
  • Final Exam 30%



The required textbooks for this course are

  • Kenneth Lieberthal. Governing China: From Revolution Through Reform, 2nd Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2nd edition, December 2003 and
  • William A. Joseph, editor. Politics in China: An Introduction, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2nd edition, April 2014.

Book chapters and articles

All other readings will be posted on Canvas. All readings are compulsory, unless marked as Recommended or Further Reading.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.