Undergraduate Study in Chinese History

The Department of History at the University of British Columbia offers a wealth of opportunity for students interested in studying the history of China. Students are able to choose from a wide variety of courses on themes ranging from China’s interactions with the world; the cultural, social, and political history of imperial China; the history of medicine and healing in China; revolutionary China and the impact of Maoism; education and society in China; warfare in China; Chinese migration; and the history of Chinese communities in Vancouver, Canada, and North America.

In addition to the large number of Chinese history courses offered by the History department, China-related courses are also offered in a number of other departments and programs within the Faculty of Arts (some of these courses may be counted as History credits), including Anthropology, Art History, Asian Studies, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Theatre and Film, and Women's and Gender Studies. The History department, and UBC more generally, thus offers students unparalleled opportunities for studying the history of China.

The following is a brief overview of the Chinese history courses offered by the History department. For up-to-date information, please check the department's course listing or consult the Undergraduate Advisor. 

Note: courses without links are not offered in the upcoming session.

First Year

First year courses in the Department of History focus on world history. These "gateway" courses are designed to equip students with a broad knowledge of major themes and issues in the history of the world. We believe this is an essential foundation developing one’s future interests and area of specialization. China forms a significant component in each of our three chronologically based world history courses (101, 102, and 103—see course descriptions below). In addition, at the first year we also offer a series of topical and thematic courses which vary from year to year. These courses often also have a China component. Examples of such courses include drugs in world history, environmental problems, and histories of disease.

HIST 101 (6) World History to Oceanic Contact
Origins and diffusion of the world's great religions; cultural contact along overland trade routes; emergence of civilizations such as the Inca, Chinese, and Christian European; ordering of societies and their political development.

HIST 102 (6) World History from 1500 to the Twentieth Century
The civilizations of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, with emphasis on the political, economic, ecological, and cultural links among them, as well as the impact of oceanic contact, imperialism, warfare, migration, and globalization.

HIST 103 (6) World History Since 1900
International relations; changes in the nation-state system; the emergence and impact of major political ideologies; genocide; decolonization; the globalization of trade; and the dynamics of economic, social, cultural, and environmental change in a global context.

HIST 104 (3) Topics in World History
Thematically-organized topics will explore global aspects of human experience across time. Each section will examine a single theme. 

HIST 105 (3) Contemporary Global Issues in Historical Perspective
Places issues and problems of current relevance such as disease, terrorism, drugs, or ethnic conflict in historical perspective. Each section will explore a single theme. 

Second Year

At the second year, students focus on the history of China’s changing interactions in the world. We currently offer two core courses at the second year level. More courses are being planned.

HIST 270 (6) China and the World
Chinese history and relations with the world since the fourteenth century. Considers internal developments and global connections, along with political, social, and environmental factors.  Equivalency: ASIA 270

Third and Fourth Years

At the third and fourth years, students choose from a wide variety of courses ranging from broad surveys of imperial and modern China to thematic courses.

HIST 378 (3) Early China
History of China from the earliest times to the disintegration of the Tang Empire. Students will acquire the analytical skills and tools to understand the origins and foundations of Chinese society.  Equivalency: ASIA 320

HIST 379 (3) Later Imperial China
History of China from the end of Tang to the eve of its modern transformation. Students will acquire the analytical skills and tools to understand the political, socio-economic, and cultural changes in imperial China.  Equivalency: ASIA 340

HIST 380 (3/6) Modern China 
Explores changes in institutions and ideas in China from the late imperial period to the present. Approaches are thematic, by periods, and by problems. Equivalency: ASIA 380

HIST 479 (3/6) Cultural History of Imperial China
An in-depth examination of the construction, transmission, and transformation of Chinese culture(s) prior to 1800. A research-intensive course.  Equivalency: ASIA 440  

HIST 480 (6) Social History of Modern China
Changes and continuities in Chinese society and culture from the late imperial period to the present; rural and urban life, social stratification, social movements and ideology, family and community, popular beliefs and cultural values.  Equivalency: ASIA 480

HIST 481 (3) Education and Society in Modern China
The relationship between education and society in China since 1600; classical learning and the civil service examination system; popular literacy; sino-foreign interactions in education; education and gender; nationalism and education; the education revolution in China after 1949.

HIST 482 (3) Chinese Migration
The history of Chinese migrations from the founding of the state to the present day. Migration is used as a focus through which to examine some key themes of Chinese history; ethnicity, boundary creation, economic growth, and international relations.

HIST 483 (3) Asian Migrations to the Americas 
Examines both the historical and contemporary contexts for migration from Asia to Canada and the Americas.

HIST 484 (3) East Asian Military systems and warfare China 
Confucian societies are often thought of as ones in which the brush is mightier than the sword. In fact, the military has been a crucial factor in East Asia, and warfare has been the engine which has driven many of the most significant changes in East Asian history. This course will exam the evolution of East Asian military systems as well as the impact of recurrent warfare on East Asian societies.

HIST 485 (3) Asian Migrant Communities in Vancouver 
This course will examine the history of Asian migration to Vancouver and British Columbia, focusing on the development of local communities and provide a background in historical research methods that will enable the students to conduct research on the history of these communities.

HIST 487 (3) Medicine and Healing in Chinese History
Health and healing in China’s history; the modern re-imagining of a Chinese medical tradition in contemporary society.