Power, Interests and Identity in the Asia-Pacific (Brussels) - PO954

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 4)
Autumn 7 20 (10) DR E Atanassova-Cornelis checkmark-circle


The module starts with introductory sessions, which examine the historical and geopolitical settings of the Asia-Pacific, conceptualise it as a region, and explore the main contending theoretical perspectives relevant to the study of the region's international relations. Following the introduction, attention is given to the foreign policies of, and the relations between the major powers – the US, China and Japan. The module further investigates the unresolved historical problems between Japan, China and South Korea, and rising nationalism in the Asia-Pacific, and the major sources of regional conflict – the Taiwan issue, North Korea's nuclearisation, and the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Also discussed are Russia's and the EU's regional policies, as well as regional cooperation and Asian- Pacific institution building, including in the framework of APEC, ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit. The module concludes by examining the main trends in the evolving regional order in the Asia-Pacific.

Indicative overview
1. Introduction to the module
2. Conceptualisation of the Asia-Pacific and contending theoretical approaches
3. Power shifts (1): the US in the Asia-Pacific and China's rise
4. Power shifts (2): China's regional strategy and policy towards the US
5. Alliance politics: The US-Japan alliance and Asia-Pacific security
6. Identity, nationalism and historical memory in the Asia-Pacific
7. Identity, sovereignty and security: Taiwan and China
8. Conflict management on the Korean Peninsula
9. Territory and interests: Maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas
10. Power and purpose in Russian and European engagement in the Asia-Pacific
11. Regional cooperation and institution building in the Asia-Pacific
12.Evolving regional order: current trends and future scenarios


This module appears in the following module collections.



Method of assessment

Students write one research-based essay of approximately 5000 words studying one topic in depth.

Indicative reading

Jacob Bercovitch and Mikio Oishi (2010), International Conflict in the Asia-Pacific: Patterns, Consequences and Management. Routledge Global Security Studies.
Michael K. Connors, Rémy Davison, Jörn Dosch (2012), The New Global Politics of the Asia Pacific. Second edition. Abingdon: Routledge.
G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (eds.), (2003), International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific. Columbia University Press.
G. John Ikenberry and Chung-In Moon (eds.) (2007), The United State and Northeast Asia: Debates, Issues and New Order. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.
Byung-Kook Kim and Anthony Jones (eds.) (2007), Power and Security in Northeast Asia: Shifting Strategies. London: Lynne Rienner.
David Shambaugh and Michael Yahuda (eds.) (2008), International Relations of Asia. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.
Michael Yahuda (2011), The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific. Third edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes

This module, examining international relations in the Asia-Pacific, specifically examines political, economic and security developments in the region, especially in the post-Cold War era. The module explores, in particular, how shifting power balances, interests and identities interact and shape regional relations in the 21st century. The module applies the most relevant research traditions in IR in the empirical context of the Asia-Pacific.

On successful completion of the module, students will be able
- to understand the contemporary political, economic and security dynamics in the Asia-Pacific, as well as the historical and geopolitical settings of the region
- to critically analyse the foreign policies and national security strategies of the main regional players, namely the US, China and Japan, as well as the issues defining major power relations
- to examine the key sources of conflict and instability in the Asia-Pacific region, including unresolved historical disputes, territorial claims and sovereignty issues
- to explore the trends for cooperation and institution building in the Asia-Pacific both from a regional and comparative (with the EU) perspective
- to explain the international relations in the Asia-Pacific by applying the most relevant International Relations Theories
- to understand contemporary relations in the Asia-Pacific by placing regional issues in the larger context of global politics

By helping students to progress towards these subject-specific outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the following Programme Learning Outcomes (PLO):
Advanced knowledge and understanding of:
- historical and theoretical issues at the forefront of the discipline of international relations, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
- the epistemological and methodological principles in their application to the study of international relations
- key ontological, theoretical, and methodological problems of international relations
- current challenges to international order, cooperation, identity, social formations, and global is- sues, and possible strategies to address them
- the changing role of the state in the context of globalisation and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security
- how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly

The intended generic learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this module
- will have general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills;
- will be able to gather, organize and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources;
- will be able to identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems;
- will be able to develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement,
- will be able to reflect on, and manage, their own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from peers and staff to enhance their performance and personal skills, manage their own learning self-critically


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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