• Class Number 3148
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
    • Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course covers a predominantly Muslim region, which has recently come to prominence in world politics since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its focus is on the national politics and regional and international relations of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, with references to other players' role in the region. The course concentrates on selected themes concerning political and social change, economic modernisation and regional security against the backdrop of sectarian, ethnolinguistic and ideological diversity, as well as outside interference and geopolitical rivalry.

Learning Outcomes

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

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

1. Feel familiar with the region, its peoples, geography, culture, and the place in the world

2. Reflect on, and discuss the key concepts, themes, and schools of thought pertaining to politics and international relations of Central Asia

3. Analyse historical and current developments in the region, using these intellectual tools

4. Locate and collate materials on a topic relevant to Central Asian studies, and present your findings in a coherent manner on paper and orally.

Required Resources

The course has an electronic brick published on Wattle.

The following three books can serve as solid background reading:

  1. Sally N. Cummings Understanding Central Asia Politics and contested transformations, London: Routledge, 2012 [available on Wattle as an ebook].
  2. Amin Saikal Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012.
  3. Svat Soucek A History of Inner Asia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 

Journals and Periodicals

In addition to reading the monographs and articles on the reading list, students are encouraged to become familiar with the journals and periodicals relevant to the subject area:

Europe-Asia Studies, Central Asia Monitor, Central Asian Survey, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Asian Affairs, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East International, Middle East Policy, Third World Quarterly, Muslim World.

Articles dealing with politics in Central Asia and Afghanistan also appear regularly in the Asian Politics and Policy, Washington Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, Journal of Democracy, Nations and Nationalism, Comparative Politics, Government and Opposition, and Current History

Internet Resources 


All Central Asia, All the Time http://www.registan.net/

Central Asia Information Centre http://enews.ferghana.ru/

Security and Conflict Prevention

International Crisis Group – Asia Program http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=1179&l=1

The HPCR Conflict Prevention Initiative http://www.preventconflict.org/portal/centralasia/portalhome.php

Central Asia

International Crisis Group http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=1251&l=1

Eurasia Net Resource Pages http://www.eurasianet.org/

Institute for War & Peace Reporting http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?centasia_index.html

Central Asian Analytical Network http://caa-network.org/archives/category/english


Library of Congress Website on Afghanistan http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/nations/afghanistan.php

Afghanistan Online http://www.afghan-web.com/

Afghanistan Analysts Network https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/ 

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • detailed and structured written comments on the major written essay 
  • verbal comments to individuals and small teams in tutorials 
  • verbal and written comments to individuals upon request on issues pertinent to essay research and writing, and exam preparation 

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Other referencing requirements:

Students are expected to observe appropriate citation conventions when citing electronically-accessed sources, e.g. The Columbia Guide to Online Style: http://faculty.ccp.edu/dept/resourceguide/CGuideCOS.html  

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Central Asia as a region: an overview of geographical and sociological features. Historical evolution and cultural identity. No tutorials. Enrol in tutorial groups on Wattle.
2 The process of state formation. Islam in Central Asia. A general historical, geopolitical and sociological survey Question to consider: what makes Central Asia a distinct region?
3 Central Asia on the eve of modernity: weak states and divided peoples. The ‘Great Game’ and Russian subjugation of Central Asia. The arrival of Islam and the ‘Golden Age’ of Central Asia Question to consider: what factors account for the spectacular rise of the Islamicate civilisation in Central Asia prior to the Mongol invasion?
4 The processes of modernisation and political change in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Sovietisation of Central Asia: an exercise in communist development. Imperialism and the colonial penetration of Central Asia and Afghanistan Questions to consider: who were the winners and the losers in the Great Game? How did local cultures adapt to the externally imposed vestiges of modernity?
5 Successes and failures of Soviet rule in Central Asia. Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and the rise of nationalism in Central Asia. Modernisation of Central Asia and Afghanistan in the first half of the 20th century Question to consider: in what ways did modernisation projects in Central Asia and Afghanistan resemble each other, and how were they different?
6 Central Asia and superpower rivalry during the Cold War. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its impact on the region. Soviet rule in Central Asia Question to consider: to what extent did the Communist leaders succeed in transforming the Central Asian republics into a socialist paradise?
7 The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the independent states in Central Asia. Post-Soviet politics in the Central Asian Republics: the vagaries of nation-state building. Essay due by 4pm on Wednesday, April 23 Superpower rivalry and the Soviet penetration of Afghanistan Question to consider: what interests did foreign powers pursue in Afghanistan throughout the Cold War?
8 Political economy of the newly independent Central Asian states: from dependency to sustainable development. Political processes and the fate of democracy in Central Asia. Post-Soviet transition in Central Asia Question to consider: what were the main problems experienced by the Central Asian states in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991?
9 The failure of the communist regime in Afghanistan and the ephemeral triumph of the Mujahideen. The rise of the Taliban and international jihadi networks. Political and economic systems of the newly independent Central Asian states Questions to consider: what factors account for the persisting authoritarianism in Central Asia? How bright are the prospects for political and economic liberalisation in the region? How serious is the challenge of radical Islam to the status quo?
10 International involvement in Afghanistan after 9/11. Re-building Afghanistan: successes and failures. Afghanistan in crisis: the Soviet occupation, the Mujahideen victory, the fragmentation of the Afghan state, and the rise of the Taliban Questions to consider: What are the roots of Afghanistan’s continuous political crisis in the past two decades ? Why did the Mujahideen Islamic government fail after 1992? Who are the Taliban, and what role do sub-state armed power-holders play in Afghan politics?
11 Islamic radicalism in Central Asia: problems and solutions. Geopolitical rivalry in the region in the 21st century. The US-led war against terrorism and the reconstruction of Afghanistan Questions to consider: how has the US-led coalition performed in Afghanistan? What have been the successes and failures of the reconstruction process? What has happened in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the bulk of coalition troops in 2014?
12 Foreign policy of the Central Asian republics. Central Asia and Afghanistan: turbulent present, uncertain future. The (post)modern geopolitics of Central Asia and Afghanistan Questions to consider: Who are the main international actors vying for influence in Central Asia and Afghanistan? Is a new Great Game on? What strategic choices are the countries in the region making?

Tutorial Registration

Students should register for tutorials online via Wattle. Registration will open on 11 February 2019.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
All Assessment Tasks 100 % 22/06/2019 28/06/2019 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Tutorial participation will take place in-class and on campus only. No other forms of participation will be organised.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 100 %
Due Date: 22/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

All Assessment Tasks

Please refer to the course guide on the POLS2070 Wattle site for details of all assessment tasks.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) all submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Extension and late submission are not accepted for the second (optional) essay in this course.

The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request it in writing via Wattle before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to apply for a special consideration http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration.  

Once essays on a particular topic have been returned to students, no further essays on that topic will be accepted. No second (optional) essays in lieu of the final examination will be accepted after the date of the examination. Students who are unable to attend the final examination or submit the final essay for medical reasons must follow the guidelines for special examination outlined here: https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/download/ANUP_000994

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Marked essays will be available for collection from the CAIS office, Rm 2.09, on 13 May 2019. Further information will be provided by the lecturer in Week 8. 

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There are no provisions for resubmission of essays in this course.  

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov
6125 8374

Research Interests

History, politics and international relations of Central Asia 

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Thursday 09:00 11:00
Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Research Interests

Dr Kirill Nourzhanov

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Thursday 09:00 11:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions