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Politics South and South-East Asia


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


The countries of South and Southeast Asia have experienced a long period of economic growth and democratization. But they also face many problems and challenges, ranging from gross socioeconomic inequality to religious extremism. This course provides a broad overview of the politics of the southern rim of Asia. It begins by exploring the practice, rather than the theory, of democracy in the region and sketching the national institutional frameworks that shape political behaviour. Other key topics covered are the politics of class, capital, and the underprivileged; the influence of civil society (in both secular and religious forms); the interplay of ethnicity, nationalism, and separatism; and the development of international relations, including regional organizations such as ASEAN as well as relations with China and the West. Finally, the political challenges of the twenty-first century will be assessed.

Course objectives

  • to equip students with a basic knowledge of the political challenges recently experienced, and currently faced, by countries in South and Southeast Asia

  • to enable students to think and write critically about power, politics, and democracy in a variety of settings


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions
    Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

There are two course textbooks, both available in paperback:

  • Paul R. Brass (ed.) Routledge Handbook of South Asian Politics (Routledge 2010).

  • Richard Robison (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics (Routledge 2011).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Prof. Dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe-Samarasinghe
Prof. Dr. D.E.F. Henley