The Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies (CCCS) welcomes applications from students to study for a PhD in Chinese Studies by research.

As The University of Melbourne's hub for Chinese Studies, the Centre provides students with an interdisciplinary, collaborative and rigorous research environment in which to pursue their interests. Addressing the challenges and opportunities of the Asian Century necessitates closer understanding of and partnership with China on a number of fronts. Understanding contemporary China is part of defining the contours of economic cooperation, such as through trade and investment and taxes; political collaboration such as effective diplomacy and sustainable security; and social connection through building peer-to-peer linkages and addressing shared social challenges such as an ageing population.

The Centre welcomes enquiries from graduate students with the requisite analytical skills in the social sciences who wish to pursue PhD thesis topics on contemporary China’s economy, politics, society and environment. Our team of early career and established researchers can supervise students on topics including economic development, public finance, public administration, governance, trade and security, social policy (health, education, housing), urbanisation (land use, zoning, rural-to-urban migration), agricultural development, environmental management and other topics.

Initial enquiries should be directed to

The table below lists students currently undertaking PhD studies with the Centre and the title of their theses.

Name TitlesSupervisor
Zengji REN  Literacy and School Libraries in Tibet: The Contradictions of Policy and Practice Professor Christine Wong
Randong YUAN  Exploring options for Social Security Reform in China: A Quantitative Simulation approach with Subnational Modelling Professor Christine Wong
Zhenjie (Jack) YUAN  Multicultural encounters and power reconstruction in China's dislocated boarding schools: case studies of Xinjiang Neidi Class Professor Christine Wong
Lei YULei Yu  State-Market dynamics in China's Affordable Housing provision Professor Christine Wong
Xiao (Monica) TANXiao (Monica) Tan Towards enhanced primary care system in China: Redefining the Governments role Professor Christine Wong
Tianru GUAN  How do the different framings of Senkaku/Diaoyu islands territorial disputes in Chinese broadsheets reflect China's policy towards Japan Dr Sow Keat Tok
Ted LIU  As assertive China in the Middle East to North Africa: more autonomy for the Arab States? Dr Sow Keat Tok
Tianyang LIUTianyang LIU  The Politics of the Self: Regulatory Representation of Terrorism in the Xinjiang Region Dr Sow Keat Tok
Taotao ZHAO  Design versus implementation: the central-local policy gap in China's ethnic minority policy Dr Sow Keat Tok
Yao SONG  Theoretical Analysis on the Drivers of China's Central Asia Policy from 2001 to the present Dr Sow Keat Tok


Applicants should also consider Australian Postgraduate Awards and other scholarship opportunities at the university while applying for the Oriental Studies Trust Fund.

Oriental Studies Trust Fund

The Oriental Studies Trust Fund - Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies Scholarship is a living allowance to be awarded annually to students who have applied for admission to or are currently enrolled in a PhD degree at The University of Melbourne on a topic related to public policy, economics and society related to Chinese public policy.

Applications for this scholarship are not currently open.

For more information please email China Centre.

Taiwan Ministry of Education APEC Scholarship

The Ministry of Education in Taiwan is partnering with universities to offer a scholarship to students of the member economies of APEC for a PhD candidate or postdoctoral research fellow.

For more information please see the

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) scholarship flyer

Further details are available on the APEC Education Portal.
Enquiries should be emailed to

Subjects available in 2018

Graduate Coursework
Semester 1

Social Change in Contemporary China (ASIA90014)
Professor Martin Whyte
This subject presents an overview of the patterns of social life in China and how these have changed since the revolution in 1949. The socialist transformations led by Mao Zedong after 1949 and the market and other reforms led by Deng Xiaoping after 1978 receive equal emphasis. Topics covered include political institutions, economic policies and work organizations, rural social life, urban life and urbanization, religion, family life, population, gender relations, schooling, and inequality patterns. The course will be taught by Martin Whyte, a sociologist from Harvard University and Asia Scholar at the University of Melbourne who specializes in research on social change in post-1949 China. Prof. Whyte’s lectures will focus on both the origins and dynamics of social change in China as well as current issues and debates spawned by these changes. Documentary films dealing with contemporary social patterns and trends in China may be shown outside of class hours.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

Graduate Coursework
Semester 2

China and the Environment (ASIA900016)
Dr Sarah Rogers
This subject provides an introduction to the key environmental challenges in contemporary China and to China’s environmental governance. The subject is structured around four topics: water resources, land resources, air pollution, and energy andclimate change. For each of these topics lectures and tutorials will analyse impacts, policy and governance arrangements, citizen and NGO involvement, government and media discourse, and international linkages. Students will be introduced to key theoretical debates in China studies, development studies and human geography to help them understand the complexities of China’s environmental challenges. Using the environment as a lens, students will gain an understanding of politics and state-society relations in contemporary China.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

China's Economic and Social Development (ASIA90011)
Professor Christine Wong
This subject examines China’s economic and social development experience from a generally economic standpoint. Contents include: patterns of traditional Chinese society and economy; geography and resource constraints, development since 1949, the transition to a market economy and contemporary problems and options.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

Contemporary China (ASIA90017)
This subject provides an introduction to Contemporary China, focusing on the economy, politics, society, and China’s changing role in the world. Topics will include China’s economic history from the early 20th Century, its geography and resource constraints, the Maoist economy, market reforms, migration and urbanization, global economic integration, and China's future.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

Rising China in the Globalised World (INTS90007)
Dr Sow Keat Tok
This subject looks at the impact of a rising China in the globalised world. It examines contemporary China's relations with various powers, regions and global institutions, particularly in the context of its phenomenal rise in the last fourdecades. The subject also explores key issues related to China's rise: state-society relations, economic development, participation in regional and global institutions, disputes and conflict resolution etc.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

Asia and the World (ASIA90008)
Dr Sow Keat Tok
This is an advanced introduction to international politics in Asia. The subject explores the shift of global power to Asia and and provides a broad coverage of the regions relations with the great powers and international/regional institutions, including important issues like democratisation, economic globalisation and security. The course consists of three sections. The first section provides historical reviews of developments in Asia through understanding the roles played by external powers, and how the Asian powers are aligned both vertically (historically) and horizontally (across a specific historical juncture). Section two examines the issue of economic globalisation after the 1990s, particularly the rise of China and India. These seminars also cover Asia’s responses to economic globalisation by looking at particular reforms at the state level and initiatives at the regional level. The last section investigates topical interests related to Asia: democratisation, the environment, energy security and other security issues.

For further information please see the Handbook entry

Undergraduate Subjects
Semester 2

China Since Mao (CHIN20008)
Dr Sow Keat Tok
This subject examines cultural and social tendencies in contemporary China, and shows how they have developed from the socialist system. It analyses the culture of China's different social groups - men, women, young people, workers, farmers, the elites, minorities, intellectuals and business people. It aims to give a sense of the contemporary Chinese cultural landscape and how this has been analysed by scholars.

For further information please see the Handbook entry