AIS5042 - Political and Social Change in Southeast Asia and the Region

Offering Academic Unit
Department of Asian and International Studies
Credit Units
Course Duration
One semester
Course Offering Term*:
Semester B 2020/21

* The offering term is subject to change without prior notice
Course Aims

Southeast Asia is a dynamic region that has experienced over the past decades continuing struggles over democratization, national identity, elite dominance, uneven development and state-building. How can we make sense of the multifaceted political dynamics and social developments of the region? The course is based on theories of political and social change. It seeks to determine commonalities and differences between the ten member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Timor-Leste. The course is thus primarily organized around key political concepts to facilitate the comparative study of the region and make connections with the broader field of comparative politics. For each subject in the course – among others, colonialism, nationalism, political violence, contention, elections, democracy, civil society, identity, patronage, populism and post-truth politics – students will debate the political science literature and theory regarding the topic before engaging with key illustrations in/on Southeast Asia through readings, video clips, and other original materials. Three lectures will also be devoted to the survey of politics and society in individual countries offering contrasting political histories and institutions: Myanmar, Singapore, and Indonesia. 


This course will provide a foundation for students to understand the central political and social dynamics of contemporary Southeast Asia. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with the basic contours of contemporary politics and society in the eleven Southeast Asian states, as well as the historical factors that have shaped recent events and socio-political processes. Overall, the course is designed to enable students to: (1) gain an empirical and conceptual understanding of the dynamics of political and social change in Southeast Asia; (2) address and discuss conceptual questions in political science through Southeast Asian case studies and cutting-edge scholarship; and (3) think comparatively within, and across, the region about a wide range of political and social issues. 

Assessment (Indicative only, please check the detailed course information)

Continuous Assessment: 100%
Detailed Course Information


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Department of Asian and International Studies