Contemporary Development and Security Challenges in the Asia-Pacific - PO684

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 15 (7.5) MR J Gruffydd-Jones checkmark-circle


The Asia-Pacific is one of the world's most economically and politically dynamic regions. But despite nuclear, territorial, and historical tensions, growing superpower competition, and cross-border threats from crime to the environment, the region has remained relatively peaceful and stable since 1945.

In this module we will begin by explore the puzzle of the region’s stability using approaches drawn from Western and non-Western international relations theories. We will then use these theories to help understand the causes of the region’s most pressing security and development concerns, analyse the likelihood that they will lead to instability and conflict, and evaluate policy measures that might resolve them. We will look at the risk of war over the Taiwan Straits, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and historical grievances with Japan, before analysing regional solutions to cross-national security and economic challenges. The module will conclude by examining whether the region’s stability is likely to continue in the face of major shifts in the regional balance of power.

Please note that to succeed in this course students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128
Total hours: 150

Method of assessment

Coursework (50%) comprising:
Seminar participation: 20%
Essay – 2,500 words: 30%
Exam: Two hours, 50%

Indicative reading

Bercovitch Jacob and Mikio Oishi. International Conflict in the Asia-Pacific: Patterns, Consequences and Management. Oxford: Routledge, 2010.
Yahuda, M., ed. The International Politics of the Asia Pacific. Third Ed. London: Routledge, 2011.
Ganguly, S., A. Scobell and J. Chinyong Liow, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Asian Security Studies. London: Routledge 2013.
Ikenberry, G. John and Michael Mastanduno, eds. International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
Pekkanen, Saadia, John Ravenhill and Rosemary Foot, eds. Oxford Handbook of the International Relations of Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
Shambaugh, David and Michael Yahuda, eds. International Relations of Asia (Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008).
Alagappa, Muthiah. Asian Security Order: Instrumental and Normative Features (Stanford University Press, 2003).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will:
have empirical knowledge of various Asia-Pacific political, economic and social issues and challenges which are having impact beyond the region.
understand the trajectory of the contending development and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region and their potential to impact upon security beyond the region.
understand the roles of various state and non-state actors that shape the politics of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
understand how various political and International Relations theories can be usefully applied to the study of the issues which impact upon the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
have mastery of the research skills for doing comparative political studies.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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