Stand Up or Shut Up?: Media, Propaganda and Social Change


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Chairman Mao famously declared that the Chinese people should ‘Stand up!’ at the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Media and the propaganda system were always conceptualised to have a key role at the heart of this social transformation. Chinese media, however, are also notorious for their subservient relationship to the government raising the questions of whether, how and when they and their users might, by contrast, be required to ‘shut up’.

This course investigates the complex inter-relationships between media and social transformation in the People’s Republic of China since 1949. Through a detailed engagement with the politics, theory and practices of media production and consumption in China, the course introduces students to different periods of media reform and social change from the era of Chairman Mao through early economic reform in the 1980s and 90s under Deng Xiaoping through to the period of ‘harmonious society’, Xi Jinping and social media.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify and explain the fundamental aspects of China's media industries, past and present.
  • Discuss critically the role of media in social change and development in China over the last half-century.
  • Analyse contemporary Chinese media output and practices with an understanding of issues of propaganda and political direction on the one hand but also the nature of new communicative opportunities that China’s changing political, social, media and technological landscapes afford on the other.
  • Use all of these skills to inform better understandings of contemporary Chinese society and social development.


Assessment will be in the form of a 1,500-word essay (50%), a 500-word reaction paper (10%) and a group presentation (40%).

If you have opted to study for credit, you will be required to complete all course assessments. Should you complete the assessments with success, you will receive a transcript confirming your marks and credits. If you have not chosen to study for credit, you will be exempt from any course assignments and not receive a mark.


This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits are equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however, please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution. Current SOAS students selecting this course as an open option module will not be charged the tuition-fee.


Week 1: Introduction, key principles and the Mao years

  • Introduction: social change and development in the PRC
  • Media, communications and social change in Mao’s China: background, history and key principles
  • Film, propaganda and social change in communist China: from social realism to socialist realism
  • Media session and discussion - The Legend of Tianyun Mountain

Week 2: Post-Mao media reform - the early years

  • Television and social change in the post-Mao period – from terrestrial, cable and satellite to globalisation
  • Newspapers, change and society in the 1980s and 1990s
  • The transformation of Chinese Cinema: from the fifth generation to commercialisation
  • Media session and discussion - Platform

Week 3: All change: society, propaganda, technologies and media

  • Entering the C21st – new media, new propaganda?
  • New media in everyday life: from activism, self and identity to the online carnival.
  • Mobility, social media and social change in contemporary China
  • Media session and discussion: Cellphone, (Dir. Feng Xiaogang, 2003)

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department.

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Entry Requirements

A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the summer school, and 18+ years of age. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.

In order to join the Academic Summer School, students should meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • Participants must be 18 or over at the time of attendance.
  • Fluency in the English language is recommended for non-credit courses, but essential for SOAS Accredited courses. Proficiency can be demonstrated through:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all subscores.
    • TOEFL Paper-based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with a minimum 20 in all skills.
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B

If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.

If you are unsure whether you meet the above entry requirements, please contact us to discuss your application.

Enrolment of applicants who do not meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us about your application and we will be happy to help.

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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