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Unit information: China’s Political Economy: Trade and Finance in China in 2021/22

Unit name China’s Political Economy: Trade and Finance in China
Unit code POLIM0040
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. King
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit delves into an assessment of China’s economic reform experience, focusing on the 21st century and the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to: 1) avoid the middle income trap; 2) secure its position as the world’s largest economy; 3) to balance its domestic needs and priorities with that of changing external expectations. Concentrating on the two central pillars of Trade and Finance, the unit will allow students to analyse state and party efforts to diversify China’s economy, develop new technology and innovation focused industry, as well as the barriers that exist to such efforts. The unit will also consider how China is trying it establish a balance of internal-external relations and networks, and the extent to which this is fundamentally different to the PRC’s previous approach to trade and finance. Students on the unit will also address issues of currency internationalisation, and the development of China’s banking and finance sector; as well as the risks that come with reform and with China’s efforts to become a leader in the next generation of economic innovation (in areas such as artificial Intelligence, digitisation, and fintech).

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate via the unit assessments:

  • An ability to critically engage with existing scholarship on political and economic systems in the People’s Republic of China.
  • A sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of power, policy-making and state-business relations with regard to the People’s Republic of China
  • An ability to critically evaluate the influence of the international political economic system on the Chinese national economy;
  • Detailed awareness of China’s growing economy and its implications for the international economy.
  • Critical awareness of how the Chinese government balances its efforts to maintain a ‘hybrid approach’ to trade and finance with ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’.

Teaching Information

2 hour seminar

In addition to the 20 hours of classroom time, students are expected to devote approximately 180 hours to independent reading, seminar preparation, essay writing and exam revision.

Assessment Information

Presentation (Summative) 50%

The presentation will function as both a formative and summative assessment.

Its practical aims include: developing team work, presentation skills, and an initial effort at research and presenting an ‘oral essay’ similar to a typical MSc formative presentation. As this is a team presentation and the scope of the assignment will require substantial research outside course readings, and means the assessment should be summative in nature. Students will also be provided with feedback prior to submitting their essay (the other summative assessment component listed below), and so this assessment will also serve a formative function for students.

The presentation will involve in-depth assessment of one of four aspects of China’s economy, which will change yearly to hinder repetition and plagiarism. For instance, the 1st year may be:

1) Finance and Fintech

2) Finance and the Bond Market

3) Trade and Innovation

4) Trade and Finance

1,500 Word Essay (Summative) 50%

The essay, which will be submitted at the end of term, will build upon the themes of the seminars and seminar readings, as well as the group presentations done throughout the term. It will be a research based hybrid research paper/policy paper. The students will have to reflect upon the economic objectives and political hurdles which policy makers face; identify the objectives of said policy with regards to domestic and international considerations and audiences; all while rooting this in the existing literature in Chinese Political Economy. Students will not be allowed to write on the same topic as their presentation.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLIM0040).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.