CCCH9036 China: Culture, State and Society
Environmental Pollution in China

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

Mainland China has created an economic miracle during the past 30 years. However, the environmental pollution in mainland China is getting more severe and long-term sustainable development is facing a great challenge. This course will offer an in-depth look at key issues in environment pollution of mainland China, including historical Chinese attitudes towards nature, environmental protection thoughts in traditional Chinese philosophy, current popular attitudes towards nature and environment, water shortage and pollution, air pollution, ecosystem deterioration, drinking water safety, land and soil contamination, and mainland China environmental diplomacy. Students will develop a strong integrated scientific, technical, cultural, economic, and political understanding of the environment pollutions of and challenges to a developing mainland China after learning topics offered in this course. The main topics include 1) environmental challenges to developing China; 2) public attitudes to environment; 3) water pollution; 4) air pollution; 5) land/soil pollution and food contamination; 6) global pollutants; 7) legislation and policy; 8) technologies and strategies for pollution control and reduction; 9) sustainable development.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the serious pollution situation in mainland China and highlight the multi-faceted nature of the challenge for sustainable development.
  2. Understand the causes of pollution and obstacles to environmental protection, including an examination of the social, political and institutional dimensions.
  3. Use relevant information about environmental impacts of various pollutants to discuss environmental pollution in a given case.
  4. Apply scientific (both engineering and social science) knowledge and understanding to propose control strategies for different kinds of pollution.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Mid-term test (incl preparation) 10
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 25
Assessment: Examination 2
Assessment: Mini-quizzes (incl preparation) 10
Assessment: Homework 20
Total: 139

Assessment: 55% coursework; 45% examination

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Short essay 15
Homework 20
Mid-term test 10
Mini-quizzes 10
Examination 45

Required Reading

  • Lin, T., & Swanson, T. (Eds.). (2010). Economic growth and environmental regulation: The People’s Republic of China’s path to a brighter future. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Ministry of Environmental Protection of PRC. Report on the State of the Environment in China. From http://english.sepa.gov.cn/Resources/Reports/

Recommended Reading

  • Chen, G. (2009). Politics of China’s environmental protection: Problems and progress. Singapore; Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific.
  • Kassiola, J. J., & Guo, S. (Eds.). (2010). China’s environmental crisis: Domestic and global political impacts and responses. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Managi, S., & Kaneko, S. (2009). Chinese economic development and the environment. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor T. Zhang
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2857 8551
Email: zhangt@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor T. Zhang
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2857 8551
Email: zhangt@hku.hk