• Offered by Department of Political and Social Change
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Arab and Islamic Studies, Political Sciences, Asian Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Central Asia Studies More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

South Asia is one of the world’s most complex and dynamic regions. Extending from Afghanistan in the north to Sri Lanka in the south, it is home to distinctive political undercurrents, enduring military conflicts, and rapidly changing societies. Understanding this region demands a combination of factual knowledge, as well as strong analytical and interpretive abilities. Rather than conduct a broad but superficial survey of each country, this casts a critical eye on standard narratives of development and progress in the region. The seminar embraces the complexities and contradictions of South Asia through a deep engagement with current debates on the key political issues of the moment. Taking comparative politics as the basic analytical framework, the class will draw on range of contemporary materials, including recently published works in political science, economics, social anthropology, and journalism, as well as films and documentaries to frame and understand politics in the region.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Understand the key political and social issues in contemporary South Asia and the public debates surrounding them;
  2.  Interpret and utilize multiple approaches and types of knowledge to inform their arguments about politics and society in South Asia;
  3. Demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

Other Information

Weekly topics:


1.       Introductory lecture: South Asian political development in context



2.       Development and its Discontents in India

3.       Ideology and Identity in Indian Politics

4.       Tribal Politics and the Maoist Insurgency

Pakistan and Bangladesh


5.       Pakistan: A Hard Country?

6.       Politics of Bangladesh

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier

7.       The Afghan Civil Wars

8.       After 9/11

Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka

9.       The Emergence of the Tamil Tigers

10.   The End-Game


Bhutan and Nepal

11.   Between China and India



South Asian politics in perspective

Indicative Assessment

Critical Discussion: Students will be graded on the quality of their participation in seminar discussion - 10% (2,3.

Reading Response Papers: To facilitate discussion in seminars, students are expected to prepare a response paper (c. 300-500 words) on one theme raised by that week’s material in advance of the semina - 6 x 400 words - 30% (2,3.

Seminar Presentation: One or two students (depending on numbers) will be asked to make presentations each week on the various sources consulted in the course. Students can prepare a short Powerpoint, Smartboard, Prezi, video, or other presentation of the material - 20% (1,3).

Critical Essay: The final written assignment is a critical essay related to one of the issues covered in class. Students required to make readers familiar with the issue in a short space of time, set out an argument, and provide evidence to justify their view, all in clear, jargon-free prose - 2000 words - 40% (1, 3).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Areas of Interest

  • Arab and Islamic Studies
  • Political Sciences
  • Asian Studies
  • Asia Pacific Studies
  • Central Asia Studies
  • Asia-Pacific Studies


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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