Politics in East Asia - POLI6830

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module will address the major milestones in the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance for East Asian countries of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, democratisation across the region, and US-China competition.

A central theme of the module will be analysing the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from repression and liberalisation to corruption, purges, and propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of East Asian countries. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems to help understand major historical and contemporary policies, and the influence of economic and security considerations.


Contact hours

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


Compulsory module on BA in Politics and International Relations with a year in the Asia-Pacific.

Optional module on other BA programmes taught in the School of Politics and International Relations.

Method of assessment

Seminar participation: 20%
Essay – 3,000 words: 40%
Exam - Two hours: 40%

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

The following are the major text (marked with an *) and book-length references for this module, and they are to be aided by relevant journal articles:

*Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith, The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics (Public Affairs, 2011).

*Louis Hayes, Political Systems of East Asia: China, Korea, and Japan (ME Sharpe, 2012).

*Xiaoming Huang and Jason Young, Politics in Pacific Asia: An Introduction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Dower, J. W. (2000) Embracing defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II. WW Norton & Company

Stueck, W. (2002) Rethinking the Korean War. A New Diplomatic and Strategic History. Princeton University Press

Dikötter, F. (2013) The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957. Bloomsbury Publishing USA

Gao, C. (2008) The battle for China's past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution. Pluto press

Kihl, Y.W., & Kim, H.N. (2006) (eds.) North Korea: The Politics of Regime Survival. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe

Diamond, L., & Plattner, M. L. (eds.) Democracy in East Asia. Johns Hopkins University Press

Zhao, D. (2004). The power of Tiananmen: State-society relations and the 1989 Beijing student movement. University of Chicago Press

Grietens, S.C. (2017) Dictators and their Secret Police: Coercive Institutions and State Violence. Cambridge University Press

Scheiner, E. (2006). Democracy Without Competition in Japan: Opposition Failure in One-Party Dominant Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press

Shirk, S. L. (2007) China: fragile superpower. Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand the key developments in the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945.

8.2 Understand how governments in East Asia are structured and how political parties and civil society interact with governments.

8.3 Analyse and discuss the causes of major domestic and international political decisions and policies in East Asia since 1945

8.4 Develop expertise in ongoing political developments and challenges in at least one East Asia country

8.5 Provide informed analysis and advice on East Asian leaders' current policy challenges and political decision-making

8.6 Use effectively the knowledge earned from the study of East Asia to do comparative studies of politics and international relations.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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