nl en

Politics: 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. Traveling from Leiden to The Hague takes about 45 minutes.


East Asia is a region of immense political diversity, where electoral democracies like South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan exist side-by-side with authoritarian countries like the People’s Republic of China and North Korea. Regional processes in East Asia range from close cooperation to outright hostilities – recent territorial disputes between China and Japan being just one of many examples from this dynamic region.
This course discusses key issues and approaches in the study of East Asian politics. It introduces political systems and processes, as well as their evolution in East Asian countries. Drawing from political science concepts such as power, legitimacy, and participation, the course examines what factors shape domestic politics in China, Japan, and Korea. In addition, the course introduces key dynamics of East Asian international relations.

Course objectives

  • Students get an overview of the historical and contemporary political developments/dynamics in their chosen area and deepen their existing knowledge and understanding of different political systems, political institutions, political processes and actors in the different regions/countries of the region, using the concepts acquired during the course Politics.

  • Students get acquainted with academic debates on selected topics in the specific region.

  • Students learn how to write a literature review (2500 words).

  • Students critically engage with advanced academic texts (summarise, analyse and critically reflect on the validity of the arguments made in these texts).

  • Students apply theories, concepts and research techniques relevant to the field of comparative politics.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor 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:

  • Attending lectures: 24 hours

  • Attending tutorials: 8 hours

  • Assessment hours (midterm and final exam): 4 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: (approximately 7 pages per hour): 68 hours

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

Assessment method


  • Midterm exam: Written examination with closed questions (eg multiple choice).

  • Final exam: Written examination with short open questions and essay questions.

  • Tutorial: Participation, including 2,000 - 2,500 word literature review.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of tutorial, midterm exam and final exam.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam and final exam needs to be 5.5 or higher.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), or the weighted average of midterm- and final exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier midterm and final exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the resit exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

The general required reading for the respective weekly lecture sessions and tutorial sessions will be listed on blackboard.

In addition, students not yet familiar with contemporary East Asia are advised to read the following very short introductions:

  • Goto-Jones, Christopher (2009), Modern Japan – A Very Short Introduction. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Press.

  • Mitter, Rana (2008), Modern China – A Very Short Introduction. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Press.

Students interested in further deepening their understanding of the region may also find the following books worthwhile:

  • Joseph, William A. (ed.) (2010), Politics in China: An Introduction. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Press.

  • Kil, Soong Hoom & Moon, Chung-in (eds) (2001), Understanding Korean Politics: An Introduction. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

  • Stockwin, James Arthur Ainscow (2008), Governing Japan – Divided Politics in a Resurgent Economy (4th ed.). Oxford et al.: Blackwell Publishing.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F.A. Schneider

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.