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Politics of Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Completion of first year South and Southeast Asian Studies. Students with other backgrounds may, however, be admitted at the lecturer’s discretion.


In the last fifty years, Southeast Asia has been transformed from a theatre of war and conflict to one of the most peaceful regions of the world; from fragmentation and hostility to increasingly effective unity under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); and from poverty and backwardness to rapidly rising levels of prosperity and technological modernity.

This progress has been achieved largely under authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes, and in terms of human rights the situation in many parts of the region is still poor. Other major problems include the wholesale destruction of natural environments, and rising levels of economic inequality.

This course offers an informative overview of the politics of the whole region, now and in recent decades, and a critical review of the theories and conclusions developed in relation to Southeast Asian politics by informed writers from inside and outside the region. Key concepts include: nationalism, traditionalism, developmentalism, authoritarianism, populism, Islamism, and civility.

Course objectives

This course aims to give students a good understanding of Southeast Asia’s political history in the last fifty years, and an ability to discuss in an informed way major issues in the current politics of the region.


See the website

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars

140 hours in total for 5 ECs, of which 24 hours of lectures/student seminars and the remainder to be spent on reading (average of 4 hours a week) and preparing for one assignment and seminar presentation, and the final examination.

Assessment method

  • Assignment and presentation (40%)

  • Final examination (60%)


Blackboard page available.

Reading list

To be announced


Registration via Usis is required.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

David Henley