Imperial China: Land and People

Ref: C2226586

China, one of the oldest continuous civilisations, is currently undergoing dramatic change and has emerged as a major world economy. The course will introduce you to more than 4,000 years of China’s turbulent past and brilliant cultural achievements, when dynasty succeeded dynasty, through to the period of decay and exploitation by the West in the 19th century, and is essential background to a full understanding of modern China. • Introduction to China’s landscape and people • Continuity in China’s civilization and culture • Great dynasties • Strengths and weaknesses of the imperial system of China • Impact of the West • Decline and fall of the Chinese empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the rise of Republicanism (NOTE: this course covers the centuries from ancient times up to the 1912 revolution; it does not include Chairman Mao)

Additional information about this course

Half term 29/10/19

Course aim

An introduction to China's natural environment, great dynasties, and the contribution of Chinese civilization to world culture in terms of art, inventions, thought, belief and development of a centralised state.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • The course is for anyone who is interested in China. No previous knowledge of the subject is required. Whilst the course will involve some detailed study, no special study skills are required.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain and identify continuities in Chinese history, from its ancient culture to the end of imperial rule.
  • Indicate significant political, social and economic changes in China in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Select and analyse the significant environmental challenges in imperial China.
  • Assess China’s changing place in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and how this has influenced its situation today.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Individual reading and research are encouraged.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • You will be encouraged to contribute to discussion and the tutor will provide opportunities for you to judge your own understanding and progress.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing other than an interest in China and Chinese matters, and pen and paper for taking notes.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Individual reading is encouraged and a range of books will be made available for you to borrow. There is insufficient room on this form to include a recommended reading list but a list is available from your branch.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • China language courses. Further research and reading. Visits to The British Museum Chinese Gallery and Percival David Chinese ceramics; Victoria and Albert Museum; Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich.

Download full course information sheet

Imperial China: Land and People


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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