East Asia and the International System (988M9)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

The module enables you to gain an understanding of the rise of East Asia in the international political economy from the early 20th century until the present. You will critically examine East Asian development from within the context of broader geopolitical rivalries, and seek to explore how these rivaliries have shaped the transformations taking place in the region.

We will begin by historicising the recent transformations in East Asia and contextualising them within the longer purview of world history. We will examine the legacies of both European and Japanese imperialisms, followed by the role of the Cold War and of US hegemony in the region. As part of this historical survey, varying analytical frameworks and debates concerning late development and the rise of capitalism in the region will be examined and contextualised, including neoclassical economics, structural institutionalism, neo-Marxist theories of development such as dependency theory, and debates surrounding international versus comparative political economy.

We will also examine the post-war emergence of 'developmental state' forms in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the developmental and geopolitical context of the these states will be contrasted with those of Southeast Asia. The question of the so-called 'rise of China' and its implications for the regional and international political economy will be addressed, and one session will be devoted to the transformations of labour-capital relations in the region. We will also examine the causes and consequences of the East Asian economic and financial crisis, and will be end by exploring whether the centre of power in the international political is shifting from the West to Asia.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: