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Histories of Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies or MA International Relations programme. Other interested students may be admitted at the discretion of the coordinator, David Henley. Please contact him if you are interested in taking this course but are not enrolled in either of the abovementioned programmes.


This course is offered in the form of a literature seminar surveying, in global context, current discourses on the history of Southeast Asia. Attention is paid to a variety of important historiographic debates, including controversies over the prehistoric origins of the region’s population, the economic impact of colonialism, and the historical roots of Southeast Asia’s authoritarian ideologies. Students learn to situate Southeast Asia in relation to global forces such as imperialism, the Cold War, Islam, and mass communications, and in relation to international literature on those topics. The course makes use of comparisons among the Southeast Asian countries, and also highlights their historical relations with China, India, and the Middle East.

Course objectives

Participants will gain an understanding of key current discourses and debates on the history of Southeast Asia, and are trained in critically examining key texts. Both oral and written presentations are required.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Short weekly assignments (10 x 400 words) on the set literature: 10 per cent
Literature-based presentation: 15 per cent
Essay work-in-progress presentation: 10 per cent
Participation in discussions: 5 per cent
Written assignment (6000 words, not including bibliography): 60 per cent

Resit: arrangements to be determined on an individual case basis.

course load

Total course load: 280 hours

  • Classes: 12 x workgroup/tutorial.

  • Practical work: 2 short oral presentations by each student.

  • Exam: written assignment.

Reading list

Course textbook: Antony Reid, A history of Southeast Asia: critical crossroads (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015).
Other literature will be specified in the syllabus.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


Prof. David Henley

Mark van de Water