ASIA 320/HIST 378

Early China

Tang woman on horse
Tang woman on horse

2016 Winter
Tu/Th 15:30–17:00
Buchanan D219 (Tu) / B213 (Th)

Prof. Leo K. Shin
Buchanan Tower 1223
tel. 604.822.5167

Office hours:
Wed/Th 14:00–15:00; and by appointment
Course web site:

New Information

About the Course

This course explores the history of China from the earliest times to the disintegration of the Tang empire (618–907). Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the origins and foundations of Chinese society and to initiate them to the art and techniques of historical analysis. This course challenges the stereotype of a monolithic and static China and encourages students to develop a critical understanding of the internal and external forces integrating and dividing this geo-cultural unit.

By the end of the term, students should be able to:

  • identify some of the organizing themes in early Chinese history
  • discuss the unity and diversity, changes and continuities, of early Chinese society
  • come to an understanding of the nature of historical knowledge


Participation 15%
Reading Notes 15%
Short Essay 20%
Mid-term Conversation 10%
Library Assignment 15%
Museum Assignment 5%
Take-home Examination 20%
Research Paper (optional) (35%)

Students are expected to have completed the assigned readings before the first meeting of each week. Grading is based on the student's ability to synthesize and analyze the materials presented. In general, this course follows the grading practices external link icon outlined in the Academic Calendar:

Grade Percent
A+ 90–100
A 85–89
A- 80–84
B+ 76–79
B 72–75
B- 68–71
C+ 64–67
C 60–63
C- 55–59
D 50–54
F 0–49

This is a challenging course. Students are not expected to have prior knowledge of Chinese history, but they are expected to make serious efforts to learn to think historically.

Important Dates

Sep. 6 Imagine UBC (no class)
Sep. 20 Last day to withdraw without the "W" standing
Oct. 4 Short Essay A due
Oct. 10 Thanksgiving Day
Oct. 14 Last day to withdraw
Oct. 20 Draft Library Assignment due
Oct. 24– Mid-term Conversation
Nov. 11 Remembrance Day
Nov. 15 Short Essay B due
Nov. 29 Library Assignment due
Dec. 1 Last day of class
Dec. 6 Museum Assignment due
Dec. 13 Take-home examination/research paper due


  • Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800. 2nd ed. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2015.
  • Primary sources—available through electronic reserves external link icon (see instructions external link icon)


General academic:

Alternative perspectives on Chinese history:

Quick references:

Arts and artifacts:

Translation of Chinese sources: