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Regionalism and Regionalization in the International Relations of East Asia


Admission requirements

A foundation level knowledge of Contemporary East Asian politics and international relations is strongly encouraged. This would include completion of one or more of the following courses:

  • BA1 ‘East Asia in the Cold War Order’, ‘Political Economy of Japan’, ‘Politics and Economy of China’,

  • BA2 ‘International Relations of Japan’, ‘Modern Chinese Economy A’, ‘Government and Politics in Modern China’ and/or ‘Political and Social Developments in North and South Korea’ courses.


Why are East Asian states establishing regional institutions and frameworks to manage their affairs? What are the historical foundations and core values that generate this ‘urge to merge’? How can we explain and understand connections between states and sub-state actors at the sub-regional and micro-regional levels? How do the processes of regionalization and globalization facilitate or hinder the development of regionalism? To what extent does the European Union provide a model for East Asian states to follow? In this course, students investigate these and further questions from a variety of theoretical standpoints to explore the processes of regionalism and regionalization in the International Relations of East Asia.

Students commence the course with an overview of regionalism in East Asia before delving into the diverse and rich theoretical frameworks that enable us to understand regionalism from different perspectives. Students will also examine the historical context of regionalism in East Asia, which has served to both encourage and undermine the development of regional institutions.

In the next six classes of the course, students will learn about key issues in the economic, political and security relations of states in the East Asian region. In the field of economics, students will study the growth of regional production networks and their connections with globalization, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the Asian financial crisis. In the political domain, we explore the impact of the ‘Asian values’ debate on the development of East Asian regionalism from the creation of ASEAN to ASEAN+3 (APT) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). In terms of security, students will examine the role played in East Asia by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the US, as well as the impact of the ‘war on terrorism’ on East Asian regionalism.

In the last two sessions, students will compare and contrast regionalism in Europe and East Asia, by considering the concept of the EU as a ‘vanguard regional society’ to be replicated across the globe. Students will also discuss the dynamics of inter-regionalism by examining the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). The course concludes by examining the impact of the credit crunch in East Asia and on the emergence of China as a potential regional hegemon.

The issues addressed in this course will have relevance to a number of disciplines. Students should draw on previous work they have done in other academic fields and demonstrate their knowledge in seminars, as well as in their assessed work. It is also hoped that students will apply the knowledge they gain through studying regionalism in East Asia to other courses they are taking.

Students are expected to use additional sources to those in the suggested reading list and to keep up-to-date with current affairs through reading newspapers, relevant internet sites and online journals.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of key issues and processes related to the development of East Asian regionalism. The focus of this module is on developments since World War Two, but with a particular emphasis on the post-Cold War period. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complex issues and processes related to the development of East Asian regionalism.

  • Apply conceptual tools to analyze key events and processes in the development of regionalism in East Asia.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts on East Asian regionalism, and participate in class debates.


Wednesdays 13.00-15.00. Timetable

Mode of instruction

Lecturers and seminars

Course load

  • 24 Hours of classes

  • 72 Hours of reading and web post responses/class preparation (6 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 24 Hours to complete the research essay

  • 10 Hours to prepare for the debate

  • 10 Hours to prepare for the critical literature review

Total: 140 Hours for 5 ECTS

Assessment method

  • Participation element (incl. attendance, participation, debate, and pop quiz): 40%

  • Analytical element (critical literature review (1,500 words)): 20%

  • Research element (research essay (2,500-3,000 words)): 40%


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (powerpoints, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.
Students are also required to submit five web posts (short responses to seminar questions based on the weekly readings) over the course of the semester.

Reading list

  • Beeson, Mark. 2007. Regionalism and Globalization in East Asia: Politics, Security and Economic Development. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Dent, Christopher, M. 2008. East Asian Regionalism. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

  • Burchill, S. et. al. 2005. Theories of International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dhr. Dr. L. Black
Room 008, Het Arsenaal;
Office Hours: Wednesday 15:00-17:00
Alternative times are by appointment only


This course provides an intermediate level understanding of International Relations Theory upon which students can build in the BA3 Critical Approaches to the International Relations of East Asia course.