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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part II | Option | Convenor: Dr John Nilsson-Wright

Course Description

This is seminar-based course, open to both undergraduates and graduate students, that extends the comparative approach adopted in EAS.1. It concentrates on thematic and policy issues relevant to understanding Japan, the Korean peninsula, China (broadly defined), the Soviet Union (and its Russian successor state), India, and also Southeast Asia, as well as the role of the United States in East Asia. In particular, it analyses the tensions between security and the national interest on the one hand, and values and the promotion of democracy on the other, not only in the United States’ policy toward the region, but increasingly in the policy of other nation-states in the region. The course considers the strengths and limitations of different disciplinary approaches in addressing this issue.

The course runs over three terms and draws explicitly on historical research and social science methodology in addressing how best to conceptualize ‘East Asia’ as a region. Topics addressed will vary from year to year, but an indicative list of subjects covered in the course includes some, but not necessarily all of the following issues: the Cold War as a historical phenomenon; methodological differences and similarities between history and international relations, the US “loss” of China and the emergence of the People’s Republic of China; the Korean War; the first, second and third Indochina Wars; the Sino-Soviet split; US alliance diplomacy with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK); Indian foreign policy and the non-aligned movement; ASEAN in regional diplomacy; the North Korean nuclear crisis; new regional security architectures in East Asia; the European role in regional diplomacy; territorial disputes in East Asia, including the status of Taiwan and conflict over the South China Sea; populism as a phenomenon in East Asia; regional economic integration and economic and human security frameworks of analysis.


Form and Conduct

This paper will contain ten essay questions, of which candidates will be required to attempt three.


This description is subject to change, for the latest information, students should consult the Undergraduate Handbook available on the Faculty Intranet.

Terms taught
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter
Michaelmas, Lent, Easter