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Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course


In this research seminar, we will explore the recent economic development in Southeast Asia (SEA), home of about 680 million people today and one of the world’s most dynamic regions. Think of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam, among others.

In the first part of the seminar, we will seek to gain an understanding of how it is that many – but not all – nations in Southeast Asia have achieved spectacular growth and escaping the poverty trap. Is there a “development model” or stylized facts that account for that achievement? After discussing the development model (or lack thereof) for such economic growth, we will proceed to discuss accompanying structural transformation and rapid urbanization in the area.

In the second part, we will zoom into three SEA economies -- Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam—to get more detailed accounts on the economic development at a country-level. The first two are among the earlier generation of SEA emerging economies, whereas Vietnam is part of the later generation that also belongs to post-socialist transition emerging economies.

In the third part of the seminar, we will examine some social elements of SEA economic development. What are the changes in the labor market? What are the roles of trade and openness on economic growth? Why corruption persists? Are there significant gains on educational and health status in the area? What is the role of religion in the economy?

As a student, you will be expected to work in group for reading report and class presentation; and individually for a final essay of 6000 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.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

The deadline(s) in MyTimetable is/are set for administrative purposes only. The actual date(s) will be communicated by the lecturer(s) in Brightspace.

Mode of instruction


Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Academic integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

ChatGPT: What is possible and what is allowed? Dos and Don'ts.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Reflection / journal 10%
Group reading report 20%
Group class peresentation 30%
Draft final essay (10%), Final essay 6,000-words (30%) 40%

Final essay
The final essay is written in two stages: a first draft version which will be commented during mini seminar on the last week of the semester 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. The final mark is made up of the weighted average of the essay and the performance in class.

The final mark consists of the weighted average of all course components.

In order to pass the course, students need a passing mark (“voldoende”, i.e. “5.50” or higher) for the course as a whole AND for the final essay.

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.


Resit can be administered only if the student completes the requirement of class presentation and final essay submission. The resit essay must be in a different topic and has a weight of 40%. The other components of the assessment can not be resat.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Brightspace. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assessment results, a review will be organized.

Reading list

Selected recent articles on the economic development and social changes in Southeast Asia. The complete list of articles will be announced in the first lecture.

For the Research MA students additional reading will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.