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Seminar III: Current Affairs - South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

At least 45 EC from the first year of the bachelor programme in South and Southeast Asian Studies programme, including Classical Cultures of South and Southeast Asia (Seminar I), together with at least 45 EC from the second year of the same programme, including either Seminar II: Heritage of South and Southeast Asia, or Seminar II: Futures of South and Southeast Asia. If you do not meet this requirement but would still like to be considered for admission to the course, please contact both the course coordinator, and the study coordinator of the BA South and Southeast Asian Studies programme (, explaining the reasons for your interest.


This seminar deals with current events in South and Southeast Asia and their representation in local, national, and international media. Students familiarize themselves with important contemporary issues and learn to interpret the reporting of those issues in news media of various kinds, from government press releases to dissident blogs, and from academic current affairs fora to TV channels owned by business oligarchs. The course puts academic knowledge of the histories, cultures, and institutions of South and Southeast Asia to practical use as an aid to the understanding of important current events.

The format of this combined second/third year course is inclusive and participatory, featuring student presentations and debate. The majority of the seminars in the series are structured around interpretations and discussions of specific primary sources, led by second-year presenters. Other seminars take as their starting points presentations of ongoing dissertation research by third year students.

Course objectives

  • to stimulate students to expand and apply their knowledge of South and Southeast Asia, present and past

  • to give students instruction and experience in analysing primary sources

  • to improve students' ability to review secondary literature in a comprehensive and critical way

  • to improve students' ability to present and contest arguments

  • to encourage students to relativize culturally and historically specific assumptions, and to use their imaginations

  • to assist in the preparation of third year students for researching and writing their BA dissertation

  • to meet the need for a regular gathering of, and discussion among, all students of the South and Southeast Asian Studies programme at a stage when most other components are optional and specialized

  • to allow second year students to benefit directly from the experience and knowledge of the third year cohort


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • oral presentation: 10%

  • participation: 10%

  • weekly web postings: 10%

  • mid-term assignment (paper): 30%

  • final examination (essay questions): 40%

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (= 6) or higher. A resit of the final examination (40%) is possible.
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

There is no single course textbook. Literature will be specified in the course syllabus.


Enrolment through [My Studymap] ( is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the course coordinator.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof