IR488      Half Unit
International Politics of Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jurgen Haacke CBG.9.01


This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high.

Course content

This half-unit course examines the contemporary international politics of Southeast Asia. It is particularly concerned with the construction and maintenance of regional order against the backdrop of Southeast Asia’s complex and changing politics and intra-regional relations as well as the wider geopolitical shifts associated with the rise of China and the often-competitive policies of external powers towards the region. The course will thus focus both on the different contexts in which Southeast Asian governments operate and the strategies they pursue to manage the multiple challenges they confront, not least vis-à-vis the great powers. Topics covered include ASEAN’s institutional design and the nature of intra-regional political-security cooperation; the characteristics of economic regionalism; the US role in and policies toward Southeast Asia; China’s relations with and influence in Southeast Asia; Indonesia’s foreign policy; as well as the alignment and risk-management (hedging) strategies adopted by maritime and continental Southeast Asian states.  The course also explores the case of political conflict and violence in Myanmar with reference to the responsibility to protect, ASEAN involvement, and wider geopolitical competition.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totaling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent and Summer Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one 2,000-word essay in the LT on a date stipulated by the teacher responsible.

Indicative reading

  • Michael Yahuda, The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific, 1945-1995 (Routledge Curzon, 4th edn, 2019)
  • Amitav Acharya, The Making of Southeast Asia (Cornell University Press, 2013)
  • Joseph Chinyong Liow, Ambivalent Engagement: The United States and Regional Security in Southeast Asia after the Cold War (Brookings Institution Press, 2017)
  • Christopher Dent, East Asian Regionalism (Routledge, 2nd ed., 2016)
  • Evelyn Goh The Struggle for Order: Hegemony, Hierarchy, and Transition in Post-Cold War East Asia (Oxford, 2015)
  • Murray Hiebert, Under Beijing’s Shadow: Southeast Asia’s China Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)
  • Maung Aung Myoe, In the Name of Pauk-Phaw: Myanmar’s China Policy Since 1948 (ISEAS, 2011)
  • David Shambaugh, Where Great Powers Meet: America & China in Southeast Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)
  • Thant Myint-U, The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century (Atlantic Books, 2020)
  • Ulla Fionna, Siwage Dharma Negara and Deasy Simandjuntak, eds, Aspirations with Limitations: Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (ISEAS, 2018)
  • Weatherbee, Donald E., ASEAN’s Half Century: A Political History of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019)


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication