Government and Politics of Mainland Southeast Asia

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module introduces students to the broad contours of political change in countries in mainland Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The aim of this module is to provide students with a conceptual framework for understanding the trajectories of mainland Southeast Asian politics from colonial times to the present. This framework is comparative and rooted in political sociology. It is interdisciplinary in terms of its readings, drawing on history, anthropology, and economics in addition to comparative politics. The module will help students develop a capacity for comparative analysis and for evaluating arguments about the role of factors such as class, race, statebuilding, culture, economics, international dynamics and religion on the political trajectories of the region as a whole and individual countries. This module has been developed together with Government and Politics of Island Southeast Asia.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • Develop comparisons across complex cases of political and historical development
  • Apply theories in comparative politics to empirical cases in Southeast Asia
  • Understand the relationship between the conditions of colonial rule and the development of post-colonial states


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

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

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Current Event Analysis 15%
Assignment 2: Abstract and Annotated Bibliography 20%
Assignment 3: Research Essay 65%

Suggested reading

  • Su Lin Lewis, Cities in motion: Urban life and cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 95-137
  • Chie Ikeya, "The Life and Writings of a Patriotic Feminist: Independent Daw San of Burma," in Women in Southeast Asian Nationalist Movements (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press 2013), pp. 23-47
  • Tuong Vu, "The Revolutionary Path to State Formation in Vietnam: Opportunities, Conundrums, and Legacies." Journal of Vietnamese Studies (Vol. 11, No. 3-4: 2016), pp. 267-297
  • Virorth Doung and Sophal Ear, "Transitional justice dilemma: The case of Cambodia." Peace and Conflict Review 4.1 (2009): 1-28
  • Mary P. Callahan, “When Soldiers Kill Civilians: Burma’s 1988 Crackdown in Comparative Perspective,” in Southeast Asia over Three Generations: Essays Presented to Benedict R. O’G. Anderson (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Studies on Southeast Asia Number 36 2003), pp.331-346


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules