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Media, culture and communication in contemporary China

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 16:30 – 18:20

Lecture venue

Course description

Media, culture and communication in China has undergone tremendous transformations in the past four decades challenged by economic reform, political continuity, and technological changes.

This is a multi-disciplinary course that examines these transformations by contextualizing the forces of change and continuity that occurred in China after 1978.

Course learning outcomes

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Grasp the key sociological and theoretical concepts to describe the historical development of party propaganda and communications in mainland China;
  • Analyze the diversification of ownership and changing organization structures of Chinese media and culture since the reform period within the context of continued ideological control;
  • Evaluate the impact of new media technology on the interplay between online public opinion and traditional media news coverage;
  • Develop deeper understanding of critical issues in Chinese media and culture by engaging in intensive, independent research topic of choice;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of current issues and problems by leading and inspiring debates on social change in contemporary China.


Midterm essay35%
Tutorial presentation/facilitation and participation30%
Final group project/presentation35%

Required reading

The course syllabus lists the required readings for this class. Below are some supplemental, but not required readings, for students who wants to further their knowledge about China’s media transformation.

Recommended reading

Cheek, T. (2006). Living with reform: China since 1989. Zed Books.

Ellis, K., Kent, M., & Xu, J. (2017). Chinese social media: social, cultural, and political implications. Routledge.

Lei, Y. W. (2017). The contentious public sphere: Law, media, and authoritarian rule in China (Vol. 2). Princeton University Press.

Zhao, Y. (2008). Communication in China: Political economy, power, and conflict. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

As an international student, I felt that this course gave a very nuanced and in-depth account of the Chinese media landscape.

– Alina Achenbach, 2nd year exchange student in Liberal Arts and Sciences

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