SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Globalising East Asia

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

This course is designed to provide students with a theoretically informed introduction to key issues in the contemporary international relations of East Asia. East Asia is defined as the states of the Northeast Asia (in particular, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan), and the two main external actors, the United States and Soviet Union/Russia who played a key role influencing the region’s international relations. East Asia presents fascinating case studies in the study of international relations by bringing together the world’s three largest economies (US, China, Japan), three of the UN Security Council’s permanent members (US, Russia, China) and two divided nations (China/Taiwan and the two Korea). The course comprises three parts. The first part (Introduction) provides an overview of the themes and intellectual approaches to the study of the international relations of the region. The second part (Ideas) examines how ideas and ideology shape international relations of East Asia. The third part (Norms) examines the region through the lens of norms. The fourth part (identity and regionalism) examines how identity has shaped various regional institutions taking the cases of ASEAN, SCO and BRI. As a result, the students will enhance knowledge of the region as a whole (to go beyond a single country focus) and learn to relate disciplinary and empirical knowledge.


Please note: In order to take this module, you must also take 153400155 International Relations of East Asia in Term 1.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Understanding of the major forces in the international relations of Asia from 19th C to the present
  • Analysis of the how ideas, identity  and norms shape the region and the role of key outside actors
  • Ability to critically evaluate the past, current and future issues in the region
  • Familiarity with the existing theoretical approaches to analyse the inter-regional relations and foreign policy making of the major states in the region
  • Develop skills of oral and written communication      


1 hour lecture per week

1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction: Globalising East Asia: key themes (ideas, norms and identity)
  2. Ideas 1: Ideas and ideology: from Sino-Soviet Alliance to Sino-US Rapprochement
  3. Ideas 2: Politics of History and Memory
  4. Ideas 3: Asian Values
  5. Norms 1: Territorial disputes: UNCLOS and regional understandings
  6. Norms 2: Asian Values
  7. Identity and Regionalism: ASEAN based institutions
  8. Identity and Regionalism: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  9. Identity and Regionalism: Belt and Road Initiative
  10. Conclusions 

Method of assessment

Assessment is 85% coursework (one 2000 word essay worth 40% and one 2500 word essay worth 45%),10% oral presentation and 5% seminar participation.

Suggested reading

  • Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Asian Security and Practice: Material and Ideational Influences (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
  • Muthiah Alagappa, (ed.), Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).
  • G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (eds), International Relations Theory and the Asia Pacific (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).
  • Michael Yahuda, The International Politics of the Asia Pacific (London: Routledge, 2011).
  • Satoshi Amako, Shunji Matsuoka and Kenji Horiuchi (eds.) Regional Integration in East Asia (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2013).
  • Amitav Acharya, The End of American World Order (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014).
  • Mark Beeson, Regionalism and Globalization in East Asia: Politics, Security and Economic Development (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014, 2nd edition).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules