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BRIC: Emerging Powers and Changing Global Relations


Admission requirements

This course is open to Master students of the Institute of History, in particular those with an interest in Russia and Latin America, Master students of International Studies, and Master students of Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, in particular China and India.


This course has two main objectives. First, we discuss the BRIC concept (Brazil, Russia, India, China), its origins and relevance, and possible implications for the countries involved, the way the concept is used by these ‘emerging powers’, and its perception by third countries. Our second objective is the comparative study and discussion of Brazil, Russia, India and China. We will focus on the foreign policy of these four countries, highlight their regional and general international objectives and discuss their strengths and weakenesses. The course intends to contribute to a deeper emprical and theoretical understanding of the phenomenon of ‘emerging powers’ as an aspect of the widely observed shift in global power. After an introduction of the concept of of the BRICs, the course will be divided in three main topics, which will be analysed per country. The first bloc will deal with the economic development of each country and its position as a BRIC, the second with its regional policies and the third will look at the country as a global player. Special attention will be given to policies when they can be compared, such as BRIC action in Africa.

The teaching materials will comprise slides (to be posted on blackboard) plus selected texts (please see below).

Course Objectives

Academic skills that are developed include:

  • Collaboration skills:

    1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
    2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
    3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
  • Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

    1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
    2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
    3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
    4. to design under supervision a research plan/paper of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
    5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
  • Written presentation skills:

    1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
    2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
      a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
      b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
      c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
      d. aimed at a specific audience.



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture and seminar (attendance is compulsory)

  • Research

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature:126 hours

  • Researching and writing the papers: 130 hours

Assessment Method

Three short papers (20% each) plus research paper outline and, derived from this, research paper (40%).
The research paper will only be graded if the student has attended the seminars.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


In the case of essays, resubmission in the case of a failed assignment is possible.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Advising students of administrative matters in relation to the course

  • Posting of lecture slides

Reading list

Key bibliography:

  • A. Chakrabarti et. al (2015) The Indian Economy in Transition: Globalization, Capitalism and Development, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Chs. 6 and 9)

  • B. Eichengreen et. al. (2008) China, Asia and the New World Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • S. Fan et. al. (2014) The Oxford Companion to the Economics of China, Oxford: Oxford University Press (Part 1)

  • A. Fishlow (2011) Starting Over: Brazil Since 1985, Washington DC: Brookings Institution (Ch. 5)

  • Maria Lipman and Nikolay Petrov (2013) Russia 2025: Scenarios for the Russian Future, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

  • M. Reid (2015) Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power, New Haven: Yale University Press (especially Part III)

  • R. Roett (2011) The New Brazil, Washington: Brookings Institution (Ch. 8)

  • D. Rothermund (2008) India: The Rise of an Asian Giant, New Haven: Yale University Press (Chs. 1 and 2)

  • V. Nadkarni and N. Noonan (2013) Emerging Powers in a Comparative Perspective: The Political and Economic Rise of the BRIC Countries, London: Bloomsbury

Note: These are introductory readings and further readings in connection with sub-topics will be recommended once the course begins. It is recommended, though not essential, that students review the chapters cited above prior to the commencement of the course.


Via uSis.

Contact information

Dhr. Prof. Dr. E. Amann