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Seminar II: Current Affairs of South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Successful completion of at least 45 EC from the first year of the bachelor programme in South and Southeast Asian Studies, including Seminar I: Classical Cultures of South and Southeast Asia. If do not meet this requirement but but would nevertheless like to be considered for admission to the course, please contact both course coordinator David Henley and BA SSEAS programme study coordinator Pui Chi Lai.


This seminar deals with current events in South and Southeast Asia and their representation in local, national, and international media. Students familiarize themselves with important contemporary issues and learn to interpret the reporting of those issues in news media of various kinds, from government press releases to dissident blogs, and from academic current affairs fora to TV channels owned by business oligarchs. The course puts academic knowledge of the histories, cultures, and institutions of South and Southeast Asia to practical use as an aid to the understanding of important current events.
The format of this combined second/third year course is inclusive and participatory, featuring student presentations and debate as well as guest lectures on current news topics by specialists in particular areas. The majority of the seminars in the series are structured around interpretations and discussions of specific primary sources, led by second-year presenters. Other seminars take as their starting points presentations of ongoing dissertation research by third year students.

Course objectives

  • to stimulate students to expand and apply their knowledge of South and Southeast Asia, past and present

  • to give students instruction and experience in analysing primary sources

  • to improve students' ability to review secondary literature in a comprehensive and critical way

  • to improve students' ability to present and contest arguments

  • to encourage students to relativize culturally and historically specific assumptions, and to use their imaginations

  • to meet the need for a regular gathering of, and discussion among, all students of the South and Southeast Asian Studies programme at a stage when most other components are optional and specialized

  • to allow second year students to benefit directly from the experience and knowledge of the third year cohort


South and Southeast Asian Studies timetable

Mode of instruction

Twelve seminars including lectures (8 × 1 hour) and participatory discussions (8 × 1 hour plus 4 × 2 hours). The discussions include introductory student presentations, one to be given by each student during the duration of the course, of 10 minutes for second year students and 20 minutes for third year students. Attendance is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a seminar, please inform both of the instructors in advance. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam.

Course Load

140 hours in total for 5 ECs, of which 24 hours of lectures and student seminars, and the remainder to be spent on reading (average of 4 hours per week), preparing web postings in response to the set readings, preparing one presentation, preparing a mid-term essay, and preparing for the final examination.

Assessment method

  • oral presentation: 10%

  • participation: 10%

  • weekly web postings: 10%

  • mid-term assignment (paper): 30%

  • final examination (essay questions): 40%

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (= 6) or higher. A resit of the final examination (40%) is possible.
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 organized.


This course makes full use of Blackboard for making available course materials, readings, announcements and grades.

Reading list

There is no course textbook.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


David Henley Sanjukta Sunderason