Schools & Departments A-Z

13 May 2019


History, Department of

The Department of History was formally established in 1925. In 1937 it moved to Chongqing in southwest China together with other parts of the university in the wake of full-scale Japanese invasion. In the following year it was expanded and its name changed to Department of History and Geography. In the Summer of 1949 with the merging of the Schools of the Humanities of Jinan University, then located in Shanghai, and of Tongji University into Fudan University, the department was further enhanced and renamed Department of History after its geography programme got separated. In 1952 with the national re-organisation of universities and colleges a number of leading historians from universities in Jangsu and Zhejiang provinces joined the department, making it one of the best history departments in the country. It was especially known for the research and teaching of scholars like Zhou Gucheng (周谷城) in world history, Zhou Yutong (周予同) in the history of the Confucian Classics, Tan Qixiang (谭其骧) in Chinese historical geography, Chen Shoushi (陈守实) in the history of land tenure in ancient China, Hu Houxuan (胡厚宣) in Oracle Bone inscriptions, Yang Kuan (杨宽) in pre-Qin Chinese history, Cai Shangsi (蔡尚思) in the history of ideas in ancient China, Zhang Xun (章巽) in the history of contacts and communications between China and its Western neighbours, Tian Rukang (田汝康) in maritime history and the history of overseas Chinese in southeast Asia, which had established the reputation the of the department. In 1957 the department created the first research unit on Chinese historical geography in the country. In 1964 it created the research unit on Latin American history with the personal solicitude of the Premier then, Zhou Enlai (周恩来). In 1978 the department further created the research unit for Chinese intellectual and cultural history which pioneered study in the field in the 1980s.

The Department gained new impetus in its development after the opening-up of the country since 1979. In 1981 it was among the first departments to be authorised by the Degrees Committee of the State Council to confer PhD degrees, and four years later it actually granted the first two PhD degrees in the humanities and social sciences in the country. In 1982 an independent Institute for the Study of Chinese Historical Geography was set up with permission of the Chinese Ministry of Education, thereby separating part of the faculty. In 1984 it created a separate undergraduate and graduate major of archaeology and museum studies which eventually grow into an independent department. At the beginning of the twenty-first century its research unit for Latin American History was transferred to the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University. At the same time in 2004, the Centre for the Study of Modernisation, designated and sponsored by the Ministry of Education as a key research centre in the humanities and social sciences, was established with the aim of studying the modernisation process of China and of other parts of the world from comparative and multi-disciplinary perspectives. In 2010 the department further founded the Centre for the International Study of the History of Shanghai to promote study in the field.

The Department now has 67 full-time faculty who cover all periods of study in Chinese history and major periods and regions in what is called world history.



The Department is known for its study of Chinese intellectual and cultural history with leading scholars like Jiang Yihua(姜义华) and Ge Zhaoguang(葛兆光) working in the field. In the study of the dynastic history of China it especially has a strong presence in the history of the Wei(魏) and Jin(晋) to the Sui(隋) and Tang(唐) periods, that of the Song(宋), Yuan(元), Ming(明) and Qing(清) dynasties. In modern Chinese history its strength lies in the social, economic and cultural history of the lower Yangtze River region, in the history of Shanghai, medical history, gender history, and in the history of the Cultural Revolution. In world history the Department is especially strong in ancient history, early modern British history, American history, Modern European intellectual history, Korean and Japanese history, and the theory of history and Western historiography.


The Department is among the first to have established full teaching programmes across the levels from BA to MA and PhD, with its graduate programme has now outgrown its undergraduate programme. Each year it admits about 50 undergraduate students, 35 MA students and 35 PhD students, as well as about 10 international students.

One of our focuses is to increase internationalisation in the training of our students. Each year about one-third of our students take various opportunities afforded by the department and the university to study abroad either for short periods of time or for a term or an academic year. The department also admits more than 10 international students each year.

The undergraduate programme is for four years with a flexible curriculum, i.e., students are required to take a smaller number of compulsory courses and are allowed to choose their own fields of study with a larger number of optional courses. Each student is given the right to choose a faculty as his or her tutor. As a tradition during the Summer of the second year all students embark on a field study to Shanxi and Henan provinces, the cradles of Chinese civilization.

MA and PhD programmes are for three years respectively, but ample flexibility is given to the PhD programme which may be extended to six years. There is also a tailor-made English-taught MA programme (EMA) in Chinese history and culture designed for international students who do not necessarily have knowledge of the Chinese language.



Internationalisation remains one of the top priorities of the department. Just under a quarter of its faculty received their doctorate from overseas universities like Harvard, Cambridge, University of London, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania. Two of its full-time faculty are scholars from other countries. Almost all the faculty has the experiences of being visiting research scholars abroad.

The department has signed exchange agreements with a number of history departments or universities in the world whereby our students and faculty may visit our partner institutions for periods of study and research, and vice versa. In addition, around 40 undergraduate students from Pepperdine University are admitted to the Department as part of our collaboration with Pepperdine’s International Center in Shanghai. PhD students may also apply to the China Scholarship Council for financial support in order to do research abroad for up to one year. Students wishing to pursue a degree in our department may apply to China Scholarship Council or Shanghai Municipal Government for financial support.