SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Comparative political sociology of Asia and Africa

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course focuses on the development of state institutions and social patterns in Asia and Africa.

The scope of the material is broad ranging and comparative, bringing in case study material from all regions of Asia and Africa.

The course is organized to focus understanding on the Western models of state and society often taken as implicit benchmarks of political development and the ways in which Asian and African realities may or may not conform to these implicit standards.

We will first concentrate on state and society in Asia and Africa from a "top down" perspective, and begin to move into a more "bottom up" societal perspective in the last three weeks of the term.

In the second term we will continue to focus on the interaction of state and society, and conclude with two sessions on how the complex process of internationalisation catalyses change in state-society relations in Asian and African environments.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The course is intended to provide students with an understanding of the interaction between political institutions, state structure and collective identities. Its focus is comparative.

This course provides an opportunity to explore a wide range of important “building blocks” in comparative political sociology, including democracy and participation, civil society, strong vs. weak states, revolution, economic growth and the distribution of scarce resources, ethnicity and religion as sources of political mobilization, and the emerging dynamics of “globalization”. The course is specifically designed to incorporate examples from a wide range of experiences in Asia and Africa, and students will be encouraged to draw from these empirical examples throughout the academic year. In addition, students will be expected to refine their analytical and organizational skills through oral presentations, in-class debates, and essay writing.


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assessment is 20% coursework and 80% unseen examination.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules