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Hong Kong: Decolonisation and Development, 1945-97 - Semester 2 - HIS00164H

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. David Clayton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The module begins in 1945, after Britain took back Hong Kong from occupying Japanese forces and ends in 1984, when the British and Chinese governments fixed 1997 as the date for the transfer of power from Britain to China. The module focuses on explaining a pattern of peaceful ‘decolonisation’– relative that is to territories such as Kenya and Malaya. It also accounts for Hong Kong’s path of ‘development’—that is, how the living standards for ordinary Chinese people improved steadily but unevenly post-1945. It examines crises: such as Hong Kong becoming a destination for refugees fleeing communist China; strikes and violence on the streets; riots in 1956 and 1966; a severe drought in 1963; the Cultural Revolution in 1967; Sino-British diplomacy in the 1980s. It examines slower processes of change: how the most densely populated city in the world became high-rise, how employment expanded, how pollution worsened, how the state taxed people and spent the dividends, how Chinese mentalities ‘modernised’.

The primary sources used range from telegrams, newspaper reportage, minutes of meetings, academic reports, social surveys, government statistics and autobiographies/oral testimonies. The module debates source biases, source skews and the impact of British, Hong Kong and Chinese state secrecy on the retelling of Hong Kong history. Semester 1 debates ‘decolonisation’ from a Hong Kong perspective. Semester 2 engages with ‘development’ from the perspective of Hong Kong.

Related modules

Students taking this module must also take the first part in Semester 1.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to in depth study of a specific historical topic using primary and secondary material;
  • To enable students to explore the topic through discussion and writing; and
  • To enable students to evaluate and analyse primary sources.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Grasp key themes, issues and debates relevant to the topic being studied;
  • Have acquired knowledge and understanding about that topic;
  • Be able to comment on and analyse original sources;
  • Be able to relate the primary and secondary material to one another; and
  • Have acquired skills and confidence in close reading and discussion of texts and debates.

Module content

Students will attend a 3-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 2. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW). Students prepare for and participate in eight three-hour seminars in all. A one-to-one meeting between tutor and students will also be held to discuss assessments.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Squatters and their Resettlement
  2. Corruption and its control
  3. Crime and policing
  4. Energy and pollution
  5. Trade and its social consequences
  6. Women’s fertility and women’s employment
  7. Water Famines
  8. Food supply and dietary cultures


Task Length % of module mark
4,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students submit an essay draft of 2000-words.

For summative assessment, students complete a 4000-word essay relating to the themes and issues of the module. This comprises 100% of the overall module mark. Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.



Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive a one-to-one meeting with the tutor to discuss the essay and their plans for the assessed essay.

Work will be returned to students with written comments in their tutorial and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to make use of their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For summative assessment tasks, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For semester time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • John M. Carroll, A Concise History of Hong Kong (Lantham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
  • Steve Tsang, A Modern History of Hong Kong (London: I B. Tauris, 2007).
  • Lam Wai-Man, Understanding the Political Culture of Hong Kong. The Paradox of Activism and De-politicization (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.