Politics of South Asia

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module is designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the conceptual, historical, and sociological factors that contribute to politics in South Asia 'beyond India'. Emphasising comparison, the module focuses on Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, as well as (time permitting) Bhutan and the Maldives.  Where appropriate, India is also included.

The module introduces students to recent theoretical work in the field of South Asian studies. Throughout, emphasis is placed on analyses of political processes (state formation/consolidation, urban/rural economic development, the politics of gender/religious/sectarian/ethnic/regional difference, insurgency and counterinsurgency, authoritarian/democratic politics, regional ties to India and China) rather than a description of events. At the end of the module, students should have a good understanding of academic work on politics in South Asia and an ability to write well-structured and well-researched papers on selected subjects in the field.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Acquire knowledge of South Asian politics 'beyond India' – historical trajectories and major themes as well as similarities and differences across countries.
  • Critically engage with the scholarly approaches relevant to an understanding of South Asian politics 'beyond India' as well as important debates in the theoretical and historical literature.
  • Construct arguments that demonstrate knowledge of specific cases as well as general theories, combining empirical detail with theoretical analysis.


  • 2 hours seminar per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: 30%
  • Assignment 2: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, 1993), 3-13.
  • Emajuddin Ahmed, ‘The Military and Democracy in Bangladesh’ in The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific, R.J. May and Viberto Selochan, eds. (London: Hurst, 1998), 101-18
  • Holly Sims, Political Regimes, Public Policy, and Economic Development: Agricultural Performance and Rural Change in Two Punjabs (London: Sage, 1988), 13-34, 181-9.
  • Atul Kohli, The State and Poverty in India: The Politics of Reform (Cambridge, 1987), 1-5, 8-14, 48-50, 223-231.
  • Akbar S. Ahmed, ‘Hazarawal:  Formation and Structure of District Ethnicity’ in Pakistan: The Social Sciences’ Perspective, A. Ahmed, ed. (Oxford, 1990) 28-46.


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