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Reading South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

The course is compulsory for students in the BA South and Southeast Asian Studies. Students from other area studies programmes (Asian studies, Middle Eastern studies, etc.) are welcome. Prior successful completion of the Faculty of Humanities undergraduate core course Area Studies is mandatory.


South/Southeast Asian studies is a dynamic and diverse field of scholarship. New articles, books, and other kinds of studies, concerning the present as well as the past, come out on a daily basis. What goes on in South/Southeast Asian studies? What is the hottest trend, the latest thing? On the other hand, what canonical ideas – themes, questions, concepts – have been embraced by relatively large numbers of South/Southeast Asianists? And how do these academic ideas differ from other scholarly and artistic traditions of study and critique, especially in South/Southeast Asia itself?

These are the issues that feature in Reading South/Southeast Asia. We will treat academic studies critically, and do this in a hands-on way. To understand why authors ask the questions they do, why they answer them in certain ways and not in others, and how this is innovative and important or not, these studies must be contextualized in history and society, and compared with other scholarship. In block I of the course, all participants study a small number of key academic articles, and practise how to contextualize, compare, and critique them in writing and orally. In block II, each student contextualizes, compares, and critiques one or two books selected from a list of major monographs in South/Southeast Asian studies.

Course objectives

Academic skills:

  • contextualize and compare scholarly ideas to understand their form and focus

  • put theoretical ideas to the test

  • achieve an awareness of one’s own academic vantage point

  • compose a fair, solid, and thoughtful academic critique (evaluation) of scholarly work based on facts, insights, and reflexive awareness


  • an understanding of the state of the art and dynamics of South/Southeast Asian studies


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


The assessment of Reading South/Southeast Asia consists of the following elements:

  • Weekly writing assignments

  • Active participation and in-class presentations

  • Final essay


The overall mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of:

  1. Written assignments: 20% of overall mark
  2. Active participation and in-class presentations (including contributions to round-table seminars): 30% of overall mark
  3. Final essay: 50% of overall mark


In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. In case of a fail, only the final essay can be resubmitted. This will constitute the resit.
The course is an integrated whole. All elements of assessment must be completed in the same academic year; no partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be announced 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 be organized.

Reading list

The reading list is be announced at the start of the semester. The readings must be studied prior to the class in question. A commitment to read deeply and participate actively in the seminar is required.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.



All other information.