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Elective: Regional Politics of South Asia - year 3


Admission requirements

This course is only available for third year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


This course offers to give students a broad and comprehensive introduction to South Asia and its intra-regional relations. As the most densely populated region in the world encompassing eight countries with rich and diverse cultural heritage, South Asia is abundantly endowed in human, cultural and natural resources. However, it is also one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. This course will help students to understand broadly the major themes and issues that confront the region. We will cover topics such as the centrality of Partition to the making of the region, non-alignment and its manifestations, inter-state rivalries, and military and nuclear security issues. Moving beyond the two major states in the region, India and Pakistan, we will discuss the security dynamics of smaller states in the region, especially the centrality of human and climate security concerns to South Asia’s future. We will map intra-state conflicts in the region and understand the challenges facing states and societies in South Asia. Focusing on India as the regional hegemon, the course will also examine the role that the region plays in India’s great power aspirations and discuss how new regional ideas such as the Indian Ocean region and Indo-Pacific have influenced the cartography of regional engagements.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral 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 oral presentation;
    b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
    c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
    d. aimed at a specific audience;
  3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

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 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 oral presentation;
    b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
    c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
    d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours

  • Studying the compulsory literature and completing weekly assignments: 96 hours

  • Preparation for presentations: 26 hours

  • Researching and writing the final research essay: 134 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
In-class Participation 10%
In-class Presentation 10%
Two Assignments: Critical Reviews (1,500 words) 30%
Final Research Essay (5,000 words) 50%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Key readings:

  • E. Sridharan (ed), International Relations Theory and South Asia: Security, Political Economy, Domestic Politics, Identities and Images, Vol. I&II, Oxford University Press, 2011.

  • Yasmin Khan, The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan, New Delhi: Pen-guin, 2007.

  • Itty Abraham (ed.) South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State of India and Pakistan, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

  • Bhumitra Chakma (ed.) South Asia in Transition: Democracy, Political Economy and Security, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

  • Sankaran Krishna, Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka, and the Question of Nationhood, Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1999.

  • David Malone, C. Raja Mohan and Srinath Raghavan, The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015.

  • Ayesha Jalal, The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics, Harvard University Press, 2014.

  • C. Rajamohan, Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

  • Paul Stalinand, Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse, Cornell University Press, 2015.

  • Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Penguin, 2016, pp. 148-268.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. V. Thakur (Vineet)

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.