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Economy: South and South-East Asia


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


This course is about a broad survey of today’s economies of South and Southeast Asia (SSEA) – one of the most economically vibrant regions in the world. Think of India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, or Vietnam, among others.

In the first part of this course, we will examine the basic profiles of SSEA economies. You will learn important skills to access main economic databases, retrieve and build simple dataset, and use it as evidence to support your arguments and analysis about the economy.

In the second part, we will analyze the long-run economic growth in the area. Why did some countries in the areas perform far better than the others? What account for a long run growth (or lack thereof) in SSEA economies in the last 30-40 years? In comparing growth performance among these economies, this part is structured around the standard determinants of long run economic growth: physical and human capital accumulation and technological change.

In the third part, we will explore the political economy and the social development effects of the long run economic growth in SSEA. What is the role of the government in these economies? Did the economic growth bring significant social development effects in the region? In particular, we will look at the issues of state intervention in the economy, corruption and rent-seeking, poverty and inequality, and health and education.

Course objectives

Students have:

  • Acquired an overview of the historical and contemporary economic developments and political economy dynamics in their chosen area and deepened their existing knowledge and understanding of different economic systems, economic institutions, economic processes and actors in the different regions / countries of the region, using the concepts acquired during the courses Principles of Economics and Foundations of Political Economy.

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

  • Acquired skills to access relevant (online) economic and development datasets.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

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 Tutorial-lecturer in advance. Being absent at more than one of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (40% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first session. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the Tutorial-lecturer.

Assessment method


  • Midterm Exam:
    Take-home assignment of individual short policy memos – approximatey 2000 words in total.

  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with 4 (four) short essay questions.


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

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 grade, Midterm Exam grade, and Final Exam grade.

  • The weighted average of the Midterm Exam grade and the Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the weighted average of Midterm- and Final Exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 60% 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 2023 – 2024.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed 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 have to be organised.

Reading list

Reading list will be made available on Brightspace before the start of the course. There is no particular textbook for this course. Readings are mostly journal articles and chapters of books indicated in each lecture topic. We expect students to read them before coming to the class. We also encourage students to read popular development economics books even when they do not specifically discuss South and Southeast Asian economies. Ideally, students should read widely and critically.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.



Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). The use ofAI chatbot (i.e., ChatGPT) for assignments and final essay is not permitted.