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Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

In this course, students in the MA program in Asian Studies: Politics, Society and Economy (60 EC) and SouthEAst Asia (60 EC) will have priority. This course has a limited number of places available for students of economic history in the specialization Migration and Global Interdependence of the MA programme History and for students of the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course from outside of the abovementioned programmes, are requested to contact their coordinator of studies.


This research seminar explores the recent economic development in one of the world’s most dynamic regions. By looking at assessments in the secondary literature, and at supporting statistics, we seek to gain an understanding of how it is that many – but not all – nations in Southeast Asia have achieved spectacular growth and poverty reduction. The social and political causes and consequences of economic success (and failure) are discussed, with attention to such topics as inequality, institutions, corruption, ideology, ethnicity, and religion. The influence of political and financial crises is considered. Comparisons are made with other regions in the world. Students introduce assigned readings and choose a specific topic for individual research, culminating in an essay of about 6,000 words.

Course objectives

Students obtain a thorough understanding of recent economic and social developments in Southeast Asia, and of the interplay between them. Students receive training in critically discussing assessments in the secondary literature, and in analysing primary (including statistical) data. Both oral and written presentations are required.


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Mode of instruction


Attendance and active participation is mandatory.

Course Load

280 hours, distributed as follows:

  • class attendance: 28 hours

  • general literature: 56 hours

  • presentations: 16 hours

  • term paper: 180 hours

Assessment method

  • performance in class: 35%

  • final essay: 65%

To pass the course, students must have received an overall mark for the course of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The end-term paper is written in two stages: a first version, which will be commented on, and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the final version, will get a failing grade.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. A new version of the paper assignment may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. If students take this option, they must choose an alternative topic. They will not be permitted to resubmit the same paper. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation.

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Dr. A.R. Shidiq