Not available in 2019/20
GV427      Half Unit
Democracy in East and South Asia

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Chun Lin CON3.10


This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Comparative Politics and MSc in Global Politics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Entry to this course may be restricted.

Course content

This course is concerned with recent political developments in South and East Asia in their historical, international and geopolitical contexts (Southeast Asia is covered by other courses). We are in particular interested in exploring how and why the idea of democracy has evolved and contested in various forms and patterns in the region, catalysing social and institutional changes and, in some cases, regime transformation. We look at how democracy as a dynamic political project has interacted with forces of market, nationalism, modernisation and globalisation, with class, gender, ethnic, religious, and spatial identities, and with diverse local and cultural traditions. We examine conflicts, crises and uncertainties in political ideologies and policy processes relevant to the competing interpretations and conceptions of democracy. Comparatively tracing contemporary developments in the region, we learn how democracy in theory and practice is informed by discursive struggle, contentious politics, social movements and newer information technology; and why democracy must be studied historically and critically. At the end of the course, students are expected to be familiar with contemporary politics in the region, competent in discussing at least two country cases with detailed historical and empirical knowledge, and adapted to writing with a measure of disciplinary fluency in social sciences.


25 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course will be taught in Lent Term, constituting 10 weeks of 2.5 hour seminars and one reading week (week 6 of the LT) for essay preparation and learning support activities. 

Formative coursework

One seminar presentation and one 1,500-word essay.

Indicative reading

D Beetham, Defining and Measuring Democracy (1994); J Dower, Embracing Defeat (1999); S Bose, Transforming India (2013); P Anderson, The Indian Ideology (2013); B Cumings, Korea's Place in the Sun (2005); M Woo-Cumings (ed), The Developmental State (1999); DA Bell, The China Model (2016); M Dimitrov, What Communism did not Collapse (2013); W Kymlicka & B He (eds), Multiculturalism in Asia (2005); A Nathan & Y Chu, How East Asians View Democracy (2009); J Kingston (ed), Asian Nationalism Reconsidered (2016); M Beeson, Regionalism and Globalisation in East Asia (2014).


Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 25.6
Merit 65.1
Pass 9.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication