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Module LXC-3300:
Key topics in Chinese Studies

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Shasha Wang

Overall aims and purpose

This module teaches foundational knowledge of key aspects of Daoism and Confucianism as both a philosophical school and religion, and introduces disciplinary approaches to the Chinese Studies, particularly in three main Chinese religions Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism from historical, theological and ritual perspectives. This is to help students to explore the deep connections between Daoism and Confucianism, and how this is connected to Chinese thinking.

Course content

The module will be mainly taught in English with some inclusion of Chinese and reading materials in Chinese.

Team-taught and multidisciplinary by design, the course is structured around the following topics: 1. Three in One: an introduction of Chinese religions 2. Theological and Philosophical Thoughts in Daoism 3. Laozi and his masterpiece: Dao De Jing 4. Confucianism and its evolution in Chinese history 5. The impacts of Confucius and Confucianism 6. Differences between Daoism and Confucianism

Assessment Criteria


C- - B+: Solid comprehension of the given topic; focussed answers with good structure; arguments presented coherently; good presentation with accurate communication.


A- - A*: Detailed comprehension of the given topic; highly focussed answer and well structure; logically presented and defended arguments; excellent presentation with very accurate communication.


D- - D+: Satisfactory comprehension of the given topic; answer focusing on question but also with some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure; arguments presented but lack coherence; some weaknesses in presentation and accuracy.

Learning outcomes

  1. understand the significant areas of Daoist and Confucian philosophical and theological methods and practices, and apply these to modern debates.

  2. critique different perceptions and viewpoints of a variety of Daoist and Confucian resources, from primary texts to secondary resources, and construct coherent and substantiated arguments by applying more theoretical and/or interdisciplinary approaches

  3. interpret and evaluate some of the key aspects of the Three Chinese Religions;

  4. demonstrate a good understanding of China in terms of Daoism and Confucianism

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay 2 40
ESSAY Essay 1 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 178

1 hour lecture/seminar each week for 11 weeks per semester during both semesters


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Effective oral communication and presentation skills (including delivery and argument development, discussion and defence) in the target language through individual and/or group discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4)
  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to work creatively and flexibly both independently and/or as part of a team. (Benchmark statement 5.15).
  • The ability and willingness to engage with and appreciate other cultures and to articulate to others (in written and verbal form) the contribution that the culture has made at a regional and global level. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to develop and manage an independent research project in English/Welsh. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)
  • Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Bell, Daniel (ed. 2007): Confucian Political Ethics, Princeton University Press. Chan, Wing-tsit (tr. and comp. 1963): A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, Princeton University Press. Cooper, David Edward (2012): Convergence with Nature: A Daoist Perspective, Green. Coutinho, Steve (2013): An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies, Columbia University Press. de Bary, Wm. Theodore and Bloom, Irene (ed. Second edition, 1999): Sources of Chinese Tradition: From Earliest to 1600 (Vol. 1), New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. de Bary, Wm. Theodore and Bloom, Irene (ed. 2001): Sources of Chinese Tradition: From 1600 Through the Twentieth Century, Vol 2, ), New York: Columbia University Press. Feng, Cao (2017): Daoism in Early China: Huang-Lao Thought in Light of Excavated Texts, Palgrave Macmillan US. Hansen, Chad (1992): A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophical Interpretation, Oxford University Press. Kohn, Livia (2008): Introducing Daoism, Routledge. Kohn, Livia, Harold David Roth (eds. 2002): Daoist Identity: Cosmology, Lineage, and Ritual, University of Hawaii Press. Kohn, Livia (ed. 2011): Living Authentically: Daoist Contributions to Modern Psychology, Lulu Press. Lau, D.C. (trans. 1979): The Analects of Confucius, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Liu Xiaogan (2015): Dao Companion to Daoist Philosophy, Springer. Liu Zheng-cai,Ka Hua (1999), A Study of Daoist Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Blue Poppy Press. Littlejohn, Ronnie; Dippmann, Jeffrey (eds. 2011), Riding the Wind with Liezi: New Perspectives on the Daoist Classic, Suny Press. Mitchell, Damo (2011): Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change, Singing Dragon. Miller, James (2017): China's Green Religion: Daoism and the Quest for a Sustainable Future, Columbia University Press. Moeller, Hans-Georg (2012): The Philosophy of the Daodejing, Columbia University Press. Møllgaard, Eske (2007): An Introduction to Daoist Thought: Action, Language, and Ethics in Zhuangzi, Routledge. Reiter, Florian C. (ed. 2007): Purposes, Means and Convictions in Daoism: A Berlin Symposium, Harrassowitz Verlag. Slote & de Vos (1998): Confucianism and the Family, Albany: SUNY Press. Tang Siufu (2016): Self-Realization through Confucian Learning: A Contemporary Reconstruction of Xunzi’s Ethics, Sunny Press. Tu, Wei-ming(1985): Confucian Shan, Chun (2012): Major Aspects of Chinese Religion and Philosophy: Dao of Inner Saint and outer King, Springer. Tu, Wei-ming(1985): Confucian Thought: Selfhood as Creative Transformation, SUNY Press. Yao, Xinzhong (2000): An Introduction to Confucianism, Cambridge University Press. Wu Jyh Cherng (trans. 2015), Daoist Meditation: The Purification of the heart method of meditation and discourse on sitting and forgetting (zuo wang lun) by si ma cheng zhen, Singing Dragon. Zhang Dainian (2002, translated and edited by Ryden Edmund): Key Concepts in Chinese Philosophy (Culture & Civilization of China), New Haven, London: Yale University Press; Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. Zhao Yanxia (2007): Father and Son in Confucianism and Christianity: A Comparative Study of Xunzi and Paul, Sussex Academic Press.

Courses including this module