CCCH9029 China: Culture, State and Society
Ideas and Practices of Healing in Traditional China

[This course is under the thematic clusters of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’ and ‘The Quest for a Meaningful Life’ / ‘The Universe and the Question of Meaning’.]

Course Description

This course introduces ideas and practices of healing in Traditional China through a critical exploration of Chinese medical culture in its dynamic formation and transformation. The course seeks to enhance students’ interests in Chinese civilization from intellectually challenging angles and enriches students’ knowledge of key ideas and methods of healing in medical sciences, philosophy, religion, and literature. It also engages them in cross-cultural inquiry by contrasting or connecting Chinese with Western medical cultures. In light of influential holistic theories in Traditional Chinese medicine, such as “陰陽五行” (Yin-Yang and five elements), “天人相應” (correlation between man and nature), “原氣論” Qi (vital energy) and “藥食同源” (the same origin of herbs and food), a number of key concepts in Chinese medical culture will be explained. Comparison of Chinese medicine with Western medicine will be involved and there will also be debates on controversial cases to stimulate student discussion. First-hand experience of Chinese medical culture will be demonstrated with student participation and a cross-cultural discussion on the vital interactions between Chinese and Western medical traditions will be held in the class.

[There are two compulsory field trips for this course, i.e. visit to the School of Chinese Medicine and Chinese Medicinal Food Experience. At least one of them will be scheduled during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain key concepts in Chinese medical culture and the historical contexts behind the ideas and practices being discussed.
  2. Describe, experience, and analyze ideas of holism and “same origin of herbs and food” that influence Chinese ways of life from past to present.
  3. Compare different origins of Chinese and Western medicine and evaluate advantages and limitations of traditional Chinese medical culture.
  4. Apply knowledge learnt to appreciate and critically reflect on the issues and challenges in twenty-first-century Chinese culture.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 10
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 58
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 8
Assessment: Essay / Reflective writing 40
Total: 150

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorials 25
Presentation 20
Short essay 35
Field trip 1 replacement 5
Field trip 2 replacement 15

Required Reading

  • Hong, H. (2014). The theory of Chinese medicine: A modern interpretation. Singapore, World Scientific.
  • Karyn, K. L. (2008). An introduction to Chinese philosophy. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press. [pp. 26-47]
  • Kendall, D. (2002). Dao of Chinese medicine: Understanding an ancient healing art. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
  • Lu, H. C. (2013). Philosophy and metaphysics of traditional Chinese medicine. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Unschuld, P. U. (2009). What is medicine? : Western and Eastern approaches to healing. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. [pp. 32-36, 42-50]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor Z.J. Zhang
School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 6445
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor Z.J. Zhang
School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 6445
Professor J.G. Shen
School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 6429