Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: GEO3-3042
Transforming China: local and global perspectives
Course info
Course codeGEO3-3042
ECTS Credits7.5
Category / Level3 (3 (Bachelor Advanced))
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byFaculty of Geosciences; Undergraduate School Geowetenschappen; B Sociale Geografie en Planologie;
Contact persondr. L.M.J. van Grunsven
dr. L.M.J. van Grunsven
Other courses by this lecturer
Course contact
dr. L.M.J. van Grunsven
Other courses by this lecturer
Teaching period
2  (12/11/2012 to 03/02/2013)
Teaching period in which the course begins
Time slotC: C (MON-afternoon, TUE-aftern,THU-morn)
Study mode

Course schedules Geosciences

Enrolment periodfrom 29/10/2012 up to and including 30/10/2012
Course application processOsiris
Enrolling through OSIRISYes
Enrolment open to students taking subsidiary coursesYes
Waiting listNo
Course placement processStudiepunt/Student desk
Course goals
This course is developed as an integrative course that links to different sub-disciplines in human geography (economic, urban, regional, development, population and political) as well as other disciplines through addressing themes from each of these in the context of a large emerging and transforming country.

At the end of the course, participants are expected/able to:

  • describe and understand the historical evolution of the country and the forces that have shaped its recent emergence in national, regional and global context;
  • understand the structures and geographies of recent economic, social, political and cultural transformation in China, to critically assess distinct regional identities that have evolved in the recent dynamism, the regional diversity of the country associated with this, the regional as well as social and political issues in contemporary China ;
  • to assess different discourses on the meanings for global and local development processes of China’s changing connections to, manifestation and influence in the world;
  • to grasp and analyse internal and external issues related to the speed and scale of China’s transformation in national, regional and global perspective, as well as alternative scientific discourse on these issues;
  • to judge critically alternative viewpoints in popular debates on China’s future.

China’s rapid economic rise from the early 1980s has captured the world’s imagination. So does the profound social, cultural and spatial transformation that the country has been and is undergoing at rapid pace and at a unprecedented scale. The latter is no longer just visible in the new economic core regions and metropolitan areas of the country. Its ever-deeper involvement in globalisation is rapidly changing its position in the regional and global economic and geo-political order. Foremost, its rapid emergence and the scale of transformation still raise a host of issues, both domestic, and increasingly external as China’s development starts to resonate throughout the globe. But do social, regional, political, resources and environmental issues impinge on the country’s unity and stability and on the sustainability of growth/development? This is a fundamental question in any debate as to whether China will really (be able to) develop into a global economic superpower in the immediate future. The question of sustainability is compounded by the vulnerability of the industrial export sector to outside shocks. This feeds a debate that has already commenced some years ago on the limitations of the ‘China model’ and the necessity/possibility of a shift to domestic demand driven growth. China is increasingly manifesting itself in, and impacting, other regions on the globe through rapidly increasing production, trade, financial and people flows; its hunger for energy resources and raw materials, its changing role in institutions of regional and global governance, and other factors. China ‘going global’ and its growing impact (combined with the domestic issues) has given rise to substantial scientific discourse and public debate, conducted in many parts of the world, on the question whether China constitutes a threat or an opportunity.
The course starts with discussing the evolution of China as a nation state in the last century and its economic development during the communist/Maoist period. Next, the forces that have shaped China’s recent dynamism are scrutinized. Subsequently attention is focused on the issues of unity (focusing on regional patterns of change and the position of ethnic minorities in the 'periphery'), stability (focusing on social fragmentation, the rise of the class-society and its ramifications; urbanization and internal migration; and politics and governance), and sustainability (focusing on resources and energy issues, environmental problems and the durability of export-driven growth). In the last part of the course the drivers and patterns of China’s increasing manifestation in the globe, its external impacts (in different parts of the world), as well as its geopolitical meanings are explored, grounded in current scientific discourse and public debate. Here, the overarching question is addressed what policy responses (at different levels and in a range of spheres) are devised towards China’s expansion. The course concludes with consideration of some scenario’s for China’s future.

Entry requirements
Required materials
Study guide
Course manual
Additional readings for project and essay work.
Dillon, Michael (2009), Contemporary China. An introduction. London: Routledge. (250 pp.)
Instructional formats

General remarks
The course is offered in a number of modules, each adressing a specific theme. Each module comprises a combination of assignment-based practicals (readings) and group or individual project work.


Final result
Test weight100
Minimum grade-

Reading assignments (25%)
Team project assignments (45%)
Individual essay (30%)

Kies de Nederlandse taal