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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. After an introduction on the concept BRIC, the course will be divided in three main topics, which will be analysed per country. The first bloc will deal with the economic development of each country and its position as a BRIC, the second with its regional policies and the third will look at the country as a global player. Special attention will given to policies when they can be compared, such as BRIC action in Africa.

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 11, 2014 and will end on December 11, 2014; and take place from 11 -13 am.
11-09-2014: Introduction: concept BRIC and emerging power
18-09 till 09-10: Bloc 1: economic development position as a BRIC
16-10 till 06-11: Bloc 2: regional policies
13-11 till 04-12: Bloc 3: global players
The written assignments have to be presented before the classes on the next bloc start. The paper outline has to be handed in by November 20, so that a tutor can assigned and the student can discuss his/her outline with his/her tutor.
Deadline for the final paper is 15-1-2015.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

Course Load

  • 26 Hours of Classes

  • 104 Hours of reading and class preparation

  • 90 Hours for 3 short papers

  • 60 Hours for proposal and research essay

Assessment Method

  1. Lectures, required readings, and a paper per topic (1,500 words/paper) = 3 papers
    Weekly readings and assignments (60%: 20% /topic)
    The paper must be handed in one week after the end of the classes on that specific topic, before the next topic starts.

  2. Design and presentation of research paper outline, which must handed in by November 20. A tutor will be assigned and the student can discuss his/her outline with his/her tutor. By Mid-January 2015: writing research paper (3000 words).
    Presentation research paper outline and research paper (40%)
    Deadline for the final paper: 15-1-2015.
    Please note that when the deadline is not respected: 0.5 of the grade of the paper is deducted for each extra day.
    For each topic the student must choose a different country, so that all 4 countries will be studied at some point. The order of the countries is free.
    All four papers must be handed in to get a final grade. A system of internal compensation is applicable.
    Please indicate number of words on each paper

Each paper should have a research question, and based on solid academic debate.

In case of a resit, only the final paper (40 %) can be rewritten.


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. Compulsory reading is indicated with an *


Via uSis.

Contact information

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