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BRIC: emerging powers and changing global relations


Admission requirements

This course is open to Master students of the Institute of History, in particular those with an interest in Russia and Latin America, Master students of International Studies, and Master students of Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, in particular China and India.


This course has two main objectives. First, we discuss the BRIC concept (Brazil, Russia, India and China), its origins and relevance, and possible implications for the countries involved, the way the concept is used by these ‘emerging powers’, and its perception by third countries. Our second objective is the comparative study and discussion of Brazil, Russia, India and China. We will look at the political, social and economic structures of these countries, highlight their domestic and international objectives, and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. The course intends to contribute to a deeper empirical and theoretical understanding of the phenomenon of ‘emerging powers’ as an aspect of the widely observed shift in global powers.

Course Objectives

This course engages students with the scholarly debates and the practical implications concerning the current changes in global relations as a result of the (re) emergence of major powers, in particular the BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

Students will expand their knowledge of the major theoretical approaches to the current global power shifts, including the BRIC phenomenon, and of the specifics as well as the commonalities of the four countries involved (their policies, societies, and economies). Students are required to study both academic texts and other relevant primary and secondary sources with respect to global political change in general as well as the four emerging powers.
The course consists of 13 weekly two-hour lecture and seminar classes. Students will be required to study and summarize readings, to write and present brief assignments on relevant issues, and to complete (during the second part of the course) a research paper proposal on a well-defined aspect of the course. The papers are due after the end of the course.


The course will start on September 12, 2013 and will end on December 12, 2013; and take place from 11 -13 am, at Academiegebouw 01. There will no class on October 3, 2013[Leidenholiday]
12-09-2013: Introduction
19-09 till 10-10: Brazil
17-10 till 31-10 Russia
07-11 till 21-11: India
28-11 till 12-12: China
First bloc: lectures, required readings, written assignments to be presented before the classes on the next country start.
Second bloc: lectures, required readings, designing and handing in research paper outline by November 21, so that a tutor can assigned and the student can discuss his/her outline with his/her tutor.
Deadline for the final paper is 16-1-2014.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

Assessment Method

First bloc: lectures, required readings, papers on Brazil and Russia (1,000 words / paper).
Second bloc: lectures, required readings, papers on India and China (1,000 words/paper), designing and presenting research paper outline.
Before Mid-January 2014: writing research paper (3000 words).

  • Weekly readings and assignments (60%: 15% /country)

  • Presentation research paper outline (5%)

  • Research paper (35%)


A reading list with articles will be put on Blackboard.

Reading list

There will be a list for weekly readings (about 35 pages/week) and a list for further reading, which can be used for the papers


Via uSis.

Contact information

With the coordinator, by e-mail: dr. M.L. Wiesebron.