Course Code


Course Name

Chinese Legal and Justice Cultures


10:30am - 1:15pm




Prof. Jan Kiely

Teaching Assistant

Miao Zixin

Course Description

This course is a historical exploration of law and justice concepts, institutions, practices, and cultures in China mainly from the Qing Empire through the twentieth century. It emphasizes joint-endeavour group learning with a focus on case studies drawn from translated primary source judicial documents, first-hand testimonies, and literary representations. In this advanced course with specifically designated roles and requirements for undergraduate and MA students, respectively, students will also learn from major scholarly interventions and debates. The aim is to investigate the changing and enduring patterns and practices of law and justice in China’s past as a means to enriching our reflections on these realms in our present and our understandings of modern Chinese history.

Course Outline

Week 1: September 7 Introduction: Thinking about the Language and Cultures
of Law and Justice in Modern China

Week 2: September 14 Mentalities of Justice and the Legal System

Week 3: September 21 Imperial Codes and Judicial Administration amid the
Ideology of Ritual

Week 4: September 28 The High Qing Legal System in Practice

Week 5: October 12 Late Qing Justice Cultures and the Revolutionary
Reforms of Legal Modernity

Week 6: October 19 A “Modern” Legal System Imposed and Negotiated

Week 7: October 26 The Justice of Nation-State Making, War and Revolution

Week 8: November 2 Versions of Mao Era Revolutionary Justice

Week 9: November 9 Law and Order States Resurgent on Taiwan and the PRC

Week 10: November 16 Quests for Order and Justice amid Economic Rise

Week 11: November 23 Study Week: Optional Individual Meetings

Week 12: November 30 Turn of the Century Contestations over Law and Justice

Assessment & Assignments

Class Participation & Reading Group Discussion Leadership (UG 20% / MA 10%)

Performance-Analysis Presentation (10%)

Supreme Appellate Court Assessments (10%)

Learning from Cases Reports (10%)

Briefs & Commentaries (2) (UG 25% / MA 20%)

MA Report with Summary & Commentary (20%)

Final Summary & Commentary (UG 25% / MA 20%)

Honesty in Academic Work

All students should familiarize themselves with university policies and regulations on HONESTY IN ACADEMIC WORK and the DISCIPLINARY GUIDELINES and PROCEDURES applicable to breaches of such policies and regulations. See the website: Any cases of plagiarism will be severely penalized and reported to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, which could result in failure or expulsion from the University.