International relations

Development and Geopolitics in East Asia

Module code: L2074S
Level 6
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay, Coursework

The aim of this module is to understand the rise of East Asia through examining the interconnections between regional development and geopolitical contestation in the Cold War and contemporary eras. The module will adopt a historical approach, beginning with an examination of the legacies of European and Japanese imperialism in East Asia and an analysis of the establishment of post-war US hegemony in the region and its implications for subsequent economic development. The module examines the divergent experiences of Northeast and Southeast Asia and the rise of China. We then examine the implications of the decline of Cold War geopolitical rivalry and the rise of globalisation and its role in explaining subsequent trends such as the East Asian financial crisis, East Asian regionalism and the changing nature of US-China relations. Within this historical context varying analytical frameworks and debates concerning late development will be examined, such as neoclassical versus structural institutionalism, Marxist vs. dependency theories, international/regional vs. domestic factors etc. Such theories are examined critically both in terms of their analytical purchase and their origins and role in geopolitical rivalry itself.

The assessment for this module is a long term paper of 7000 words. The teaching method is a three-hour seminar each week.

Module learning outcomes

  • Develop a systematic and critical understanding of the empirical practices and the relevant theoretical approaches in the fields of IR/IPE and development as they relate to the power struggles that have shaped East Asia.
  • Develop a detailed conceptual understanding of the core themes and events in the historical development of the East Asian regional political economy since the early 20th century.
  • Effectively synthesise and communicate the empirical and theoretical uncertainties, ambiguities and limits of elite-centred accounts of East Asian regional development.