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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST2008 The Making of Modern Thailand

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Professor Martin Seeger

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

EAST2708 and EAST2709

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Study how Thai's have constructed their national identity and how the Kingdom of Siam was transformed into the modern Thai nation state. In this module we will examine key contemporary debates on the interpretation of historical processes and events, and through analyses of Thai films and a variety of different texts, the complex processes of the making and sustaining of Thai national identity is explored. We will learn that history and tradition are not predetermined but are products of selection, emphasis, oblivion and (re)creation. We will examine how the writing of history is influenced by the need for political legitimacy and to maintain national identity. By critically examining a number of relevant texts and Thai films, students will explore major narratives of history and the ongoing debate on the "correct" interpretation of available historical sources. The module will also examine the impact Thai historiography has had on Thailand's relations with other nation-states in South East Asia.


The aims of this module are

- to give students an overview of Thai history, with a special emphasis on the period after 1851;
- to develop the skills to search, identify, select and evaluate relevant materials in the study of Thai and Burmese history and social phenomena in modern Thailand;
- to explore various narratives on the emergence of the Thai nation;
- to discuss and analyse in detail various debates about Thai historiography;
- to enable students to approach Thai history critically and at the same time empathetically;
- to develop skills of interpreting various sources on Thai history, such as films on the Thai-Burmese wars and Thai school textbooks.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should:

- have gained knowledge of prominent academic debates on nationalism and the emergence of nation states;
- have gained an overview of Thai history from the early 13th century to the present;
- be able to demonstrate an understanding of the emergence of the Thai nation;
- be capable of analysing and discussing main debates on Thai historiography;
- be capable of drawing informed understandings of Thai historiography from a range of media;
- be able to address topics and issues in Thai and Burmese history critically as well as with an understanding of cultural issues;
- be able to search for, identify, select and evaluate relevant materials for the study of Thai history and the society;

Skills outcomes
- Communication in oral and written form;
- Working in groups and independently;
- The ability to gather, extract and present information;
- The ability to present a reasoned and complex argument;
- Time management;
- The ability to read and understand Thai historical texts;
- Cultural awareness and reflection and self- reflection;
- Familiarity with the problems, pitfalls and benefits of cross-cultural studies;
- Ability to evaluate one's learning process, written work and oral expression critically and reflexively through tutorial discussions and presentations.


The following topics will be covered:

- Objectives of the module; general discussion on history/historiography and identity (individual/collective identity).
- Nation, nationalism and nation-state: four definitions of nationalism
- Introduction to Thai history writing.
- Overview of Thai history: pre-Sukhothai period, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya (the social morphology during the Ayutthaya period), Thonburi period, early Bangkok-era (Rama I, Rama II and Rama III).
- King Mongkut and the West; King Chulalongkorn 'The Great'
- Rama VI: 'nation-monarchy-religion'; 'What is ‘modernization'?
- Pre-modern Thai Society and State;
- How Siam became Thailand
- The Ramkhamhaeng Stone Inscription controversy.
- 'Siam Mapped': how a new technology of mapping influenced Thai conceptions of nationhood
- Language standardization and the nation.
- The Thai-Burma relationship;
- The creation of an 'enemy' ('satru'); new Nationalism as a reaction to the 1997 economic crisis: cinema and the construction of national identity (Thai films: 'Bangrajan', 'Suriyothai' and 'Anna and the King').
- The student protests of 14 October 1973 and 6 October 1976.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours50.00
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

ONLINE LEARNING 50 HOURS (Students will be required to identify and analyse relevant online sources, such as online dictionaries, newspaper articles, JSTOR, etc; in addition, VLE will be used for online discussions of themes, concepts and questions that were introduced in the seminars and lectures)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive formative feedback during the seminars and on the role play exercise/classroom debate in teaching week 11.
Students will be strongly encouraged to visit the lecturer during this office hours in order to discuss their understanding of the contents of this module, their essay topic and literature review.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 words60.00
Literature Review1,000 word literature review40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students who fail the module over-all will resit the component of assessment (essay or literature review) which they failed. If they fail both components they will retake both.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:39:00


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