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Culture: 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.


This course focuses on contemporary societies in East Asia, with a particular focus on cultural identities in a globalizing world. In the first part of the course (block 1), we will discuss culture in the broad sense, or culture as a system of meanings, a repetoire of behaviours and norms shared by people who belong to a certain group. To what extent can we talk about coherent culture(s) in East Asia? What diverse identities can be found in East Asian societies and how are they formed? What are the roles of the state and media in shaping national and cultural identities, and how are identities constructed through consumption practices and influenced by globalization and rapid transformations of societies in East Asia? In the second part of the course (block 2), after zooming in on the issue of language and culture, we will turn to culture in the narrow sense, such as fields of high art and popular culture of Japan, Korea, and China, including cinema. We will discuss the symbols and meanings produced within these domains and examine regional and global circulation of cultural products, including how East Asian culture is perceived abroad.

Course objectives

This course will enable students to deepen their understanding and knowledge of East Asian societies and cultures. Students will gain insights into various approaches to studying these aspects of East Asian societies. Students will also further develop their critical thinking, analytical and academic writing skills.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lectures and 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 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 for classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • Written examination with essay questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • 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



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

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



For tutorials
Prof. Dr. I.B. Smits
S.S. Kharchenkova MA