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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3251 Twentieth Century Southeast Asia: From Empire to Independence

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Dr Sean Fear

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides an overview of the rich and turbulent political history of Southeast Asia in the twentieth century. It will explore how nationalist political movements emerged in resistance to colonial rule, and how newly formed postcolonial states grappled with challenges of race, regional and religious identities, economic development, the Cold War, globalisation, and the recurrence of political violence. The module offers coverage of some of the following countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. Students will also have the opportunity to explore the works of pathbreaking scholars whose impact resonates across historical subfields and disciplines, including Benedict Anderson, Ann Stoler, and James C. Scott.Content note: to discuss these themes effectively the module engages with some sensitive issues, including gender violence and racist language. The module tutor can provide more information on this if required.


The objectives of this module are:
a) To provide an overview of the political history of modern Southeast Asia
b) To develop an awareness of the region’s rich historiography
c) To identify and evaluate a wide range of primary sources
d) To develop critical thinking and oral and written communication skills on a range of complex historical topics and debates

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of the module, students will:
1. Better understand the complexity of contemporary Southeast Asian history
2. Have a strong awareness of Southeast Asian nationalist political movements and ideology
3. Be able to assess the fall of colonialism in Southeast Asia, and the legacy of empire
4. Appreciate the many challenges faced by postcolonial states in the region
5. Be familiar with key historical texts, themes and debates within the historiography
6. Be able to engage critically with primary sources from the region, and to assess their broader significance.

Skills outcomes
The module will help foster oral and written communication of complex ideas; independent and self-driven research; the ability to gather and synthesize large volumes of information; analytical and problem-solving skills; assessing complex intellectual debate and advancing and supporting original contributions; empathy and awareness of diverse cultures and traditions.


Topics may include:
• race and national identity
• the rise of nationalism
• colonialism and postcolonialism
• the impact of the Cold War
• modernisation and economic development
• the politics of violence and authoritarian government
• regionalism and separatism
• global and transnational connections

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparatory reading and points for discussion prior to weekly seminars; independent reading and research for assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive formative feedback following the two text analysis exercises in week 3 and week 6 (1000 words) and will be monitored through in-class discussions, office hours, and weekly seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words60.00
Source Analysis2x Text Analysis of 1,000 words each40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/01/2024


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