SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Comparing Democracies in North East Asia

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

This module examines the origins, characteristics and dynamics of the political systems of Northeast Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan). Each week we examine a different political theme as the basis to compare these three East Asian democracies. We will consider a wide range of political science theories and frameworks to analyse how domestic politics operates in these country cases.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • Teach students to evaluate and ‘test’ a broad range of concepts and theories on these three East Asian cases.
  • Show students how to present ideas and explore important concepts in writing and through presentations.
  • Teach students skills in comparative political analysis.
  •  Build up students’ detailed knowledge of the domestic politics of East Asian countries.


1 hour Lecture per week

1 hour Seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  • Authoritarianism and Its legacies.
  • Democratic transition.
  • Electoral system.
  • Voting behaviour and public opinion.
  • Party system.
  • Political parties: leaders; organization; followers (including regional politics).
  • Electoral campaigns and political communications (including media).
  • Political corruption.
  • Social movements (e.g. environment, gender).

Method of assessment

Assessment is 90% coursework and 10% oral presentation.

Suggested reading

  • Brooker, Paul, Non-Democratic Regimes (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 1-44.
  • Dan Slater and Joseph Wong, (2013) “The Strength to Concede: Ruling Parties and Democratization in Developmental Asia,” Perspectives on Politics, Vol 11: 3: (O)
  • Nathan Batto, Huang Chi, Alexander Tan and Gary Cox, Mixed Member Electoral Systems in Constitutional Context: Taiwan: Japan and beyond (University of Michigan, 2016)
  • Rich, Timothy S Partisanship, Polling and Strategic Voting in East Asia: Evidence From an Experimental Web Survey JOURNAL OF ASIAN AND AFRICAN STUDIES; NOV 2018; 53; 7; p1086-p1101
  • Scarrow, Susan, Political Parties and Party Systems, in Le Duc, Lawrence, Richard Niemi, & Pippa Norris (Eds.), Comparing Democracies 3: New Challenges in the Study of Elections and Voting (London: Sage, 2010), 45-64. (BLE)
  • Jinyoung Tak, “Political Advertising in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan,” in Sage Handbook of Political Advertising, 285-305. (BLE)
  • Chang, Eric C. C.; Huang, Shih-hao (2016): Corruption Experience, Corruption Tolerance, and Institutional Trust in East Asian Democracies. In: Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Vol. 12, No. 1., pp. 27-44.
  • Lee Hwa-jen (2015). Leverage of the Weak: Labor and Environmental Movements in Taiwan and South Korea. Ebook 1-13, 129-158.
  • Shipper, Apichai, W. 2010. ‘Politics of Citizenship and Transnational Gendered Migration in East and Southeast Asia’. Pacific Affairs 83(1): 11- 29, Spring. (O)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules