• Class Number 4327
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Marcus Mietzner
    • AsPr Marcus Mietzner
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

Asian politics is diverse and rapidly changing.  Many different types of political system can be found in Asia, including communist regimes, constitutional monarchies, democracies and military-based authoritarian governments.  Moreover, seemingly entrenched systems can be overturned, as witnessed in Indonesian’s transition to democracy or Thailand’s return to authoritarianism.  The study of Asian politics not only gives insights into recent phenomena in the world’s most rapidly growing region, but also provides a setting for understanding and relating political theory to real world developments.  This course has two main purposes.  First, it will introduce students to major concepts and theories within political science and secondly will use examples from within Asia to illustrate different political science categories and approaches.  During the course, scholars of the politics of South Asia, Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as of transnational and strategic relations within Asia, will discuss particular themes within political science and relate these to their region or topic of specialization.  In this way, students will emerge with a broad knowledge of both politics as a discipline and political developments within Asia.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to

1. Engage with Asia linguistically and culturally as a basis for independent lifelong learning from Asia and with Asia.
2. Use concepts and methods from the humanities and social sciences to develop, review, analyse and synthesise knowledge about Asia, its regions, and its place in the world.
3. Use engagement with Asia’s diversity as a basis for critically reflecting on concepts, methods and knowledge in the humanities and social sciences.
4. Communicate knowledge of Asia to diverse audiences using academic and applied styles, in both English and an Asian language.
5. Exercise critical thinking and judgment in identifying and solving problems, individually and in groups.

Research-Led Teaching

This course draws from more than two decades of research experience in Asia. The convener has studied Indonesian and Southeast Asian politics, and especially military politics, since the 1990s.

Field Trips

None required

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

The examination will be in the form of a take-home exam. Normal access to online and other resources is allowed.

Required Resources

Since some elements of this course are delivered online, a stable internet connection is recommended. However, students without such a stable connection are given the opportunity to submit written commentaries on the class readings in order to substitute for direct contributions in class.

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 WEEK 1: Power, Actors and Ideas: Introducing Politics and Political Science (Marcus Mietzner), 22 February In this lecture, we will provide an overview of the subject matter of the course and discuss issues related to course administration. In addition to the required substantive reading below, please also read the CMS Course Guide so that you can ask informed questions during the lecture and tutorials on anything that remains unclear to you. Required Reading: Robert Garner (2012), 'Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis', in Introduction to Politics, eds. Robert Garner, Peter Ferdinand and Stephanie Lawson (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1-26.
2 WEEK 2: Democracy and Authoritarianism: Political Systems in Asia and the Pacific (Marcus Mietzner), 1 March The Asia-Pacific region has a wide variety of political systems: from full democracies to autocracies, from monarchies to communist regimes, from electoral authoritarianism to military dictatorships. This lecture explains the various regime types present in Asia and the Pacific, and provides conceptual guidelines on how to classify regimes. It also offers explanatory propositions that link the emergence of certain regime types to specific social, economic or historical factors. Required Reading: Aurel Croissant & Jeffrey Haynes (2020), Democratic Regression in Asia: introduction, Democratization Online. Recommended Reading: Aurel Croissant (2020), Democracies with Preexisting Conditions and the Coronavirus in the Indo-Pacific Region, ASAN Forum.
3 WEEK 3: Power Transitions and Processes of Change: Drivers and Outcomes (Marcus Mietzner), 8 March Political systems are rarely static. Democracies can turn into authoritarian regimes, or vice versa, or other forms of political or social transitions can take place. This lecture explores the factors that can trigger political transitions, and discusses why some political systems in Asia and the Pacific are more resistant to change than others. Note that this lecture is pre-recorded because of the holiday on 8 March. Students can watch it anytime before or after 8 March. Required Reading: Lee Morgenbesser (2019), Cambodia's Transition to Hegemonic Authoritarianism , Journal of Democracy 30(1): 158-171. Recommended Reading: Andreas Ufen (2020) Opposition in Transition: Pre-electoral Coalitions and the 2018 Electoral Breakthrough in Malaysia, Democratization 27(2): 167-184.
4 WEEK 4: Clientelism and Informal Politics in Asia (Ed Aspinall), 15 March Not all politics is above board. Corruption, patronage, clientelism, patrimonialism and oligarchic power operate behind the scenes yet can have an immense impact on the ways a political system functions - sometimes much more so than the formal institutions upon which the system is, theoretically, based. This lecture looks at how clientelism operates, and explores what types of political systems are more prone to clientelism. Required Reading: Edward Aspinall and Allen Hicken (2019), 'Guns for Hire and Enduring Regimes: Clientalism Beyond Parties in Indonesia and the Philippines', Democratization 27(1): 137-156. Recommended Reading: Ward Berenschot (2018), 'Informal Democratisation: Brokers, Access to Public Services and Democratic Accountability in Indonesia and India', Democratization 26(2): 208-224.
5 WEEK 5: Women in Politics (Dr Sally White), 22 March Women have often been excluded from formal political participation in Asia and globally, yet the region has also been home to highly influential female leaders over recent decades. This lecture explores the role that women play in formal and informal political processes, how the experience of politics is gendered, and the contribution of feminist scholarship to understanding political science. Required Reading: Susan Blackburn (2015), 'Women and Democracy in Southeast Asia' in Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asia Democratization, edited by William Case (London: Routledge), 186-200. Recommended Reading: Ben Hilman (2014), 'The Limits of Gender Quotas: Women's Parliamentary Representation in Indonesia', Journal of Contemporary Asia 48(2): 322-338. First Short Paper due on 22 March, 23.55.
6 WEEK 6: Communism in Asia (Marcus Mietzner), 29 March Authoritarian regimes often rely on certain political doctrine to consolidate their existence. This week explores the doctrinal bases of Asian communism and how socialist ideologies, among other factors, contribute to sustaining states' power and shaping their distinctive form of state-society relations. The lecture looks particularly at Vietnam. Required Readings: Tuong Vu (2019), In the Service of World Revolution: Vietnamese Communists’ Radical Ambitions through the Three Indochina Wars October, Journal of Cold War Studies 21(4):4-30. Recommended Reading: Le Hong Hiep (2012), Performance-based Legitimacy: The Case of the Communist Party of Vietnam and 'Doi Moi', Contemporary Southeast Asia 34(2): 145-172.
7 WEEK 7: Agency vs Structure: What Shapes Asian Politics? (Marcus Mietzner), 19 April One of the most controversial debates in political science concerns the role of structure and agency in shaping political outcomes. Are political processes driven by actors whose decisions and interventions can lead to significant political and social change? Or are actors simply agents of historical and socio-political structures that predetermine the outcome of political events? This lecture will investigate these questions, and offer guidelines for political research that pays attention to political agency and historically grown structures in equal measure. Required Reading: Greg Fealy (2015), ‘The Politics of Yudhoyono: Majoritarian Democracy, Insecurity and Vanity’, in Edward Aspinall, Marcus Mietzner and Dirk Tomsa (eds), The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia’s Decade of Stability and Stagnation, ISEAS, Singapore, pp. 35-54. Recommended Reading: Nicole Curato (2017), Flirting with Authoritarian Fantasies? Rodrigo Duterte and the New Terms of Philippine Populism, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 47:1, 142-153.
8 WEEK 8: Religion and Politics (Greg Fealy), 26 April The Asian region features a range of religious traditions with some countries having a homogenous religious profile and others being more diverse. What role do religious beliefs, organisations, and leaders play in contemporary Asian politics? Note that this is a prerecorded lecture since 26 April is a holiday. Students can watch the lecture at any time before or after 26 April. Required Reading: Gurharpal Singh (2019), Hindu Nationalism in Power: Making sense of Modi and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government, 2014–19, Sikh Formations, 15:3-4, 314-331. Recommended Reading: Marcus Mietzner & Burhanuddin Muhtadi (2018), Explaining the 2016 Islamist Mobilisation in Indonesia: Religious Intolerance, Militant Groups and the Politics of Accommodation, Asian Studies Review, 42:3, 479-497. Second Short Paper due on 26 April, 23.55
9 WEEK 9: When Politics Fails: Is War Thinkable in Asia ? (Hugh White), 3 May In this lecture, Hugh White revisits one of his classic essays from 2008. It explores whether war remains a possibility in the region. For a long time, many people argued that the political and economic interdependency of Asia-Pacific countries rules out a large-scale war in the future. But now it is becoming clear that China’s rise and its escalating rivalry with the United States make a future war not only possible, but even likely. Required Reading: Hugh White, 2008. 'Why War in Asia Remains Thinkable', Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 50(6): 85-104. Recommended Readings: Richard A. Bitzinger & Barry Desker, 2008. 'Why East Asian War is Unlikely', Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 50(6):105-128. Kevin Rudd, 2020. 'Beware of the Guns of August - In Asia: How to Keep U.S.-Chinese Tensions from Sparking a War', Foreign Affairs, September/October 2020.
10 WEEK 10: Asia's History as Politics (Marcus Mietzner), 10 May A nation's past is not separate from its contemporary politics. Historical events - and their interpretation - can express and influence how a nation views itself, and they also shape the contemporary relations between countries. This lecture explores the importance of historical perceptions and symbols in Japan, and how they have created tensions both within Japan and in its relations with neighbouring countries, such as Korea. The lecture also highlights to students that the study of politics and history is not only done through texts - we will discuss this week's subject by exploring a number of shrines, memorials and castles in Japan that each symbolise historical events and the way different Japanese governments have situated them. Required Reading: Ran Zwigenberg (2019), Hiroshima Castle and the Long Shadow of Militarism in Postwar Japan, Japan Review 33: 195-218. Recommended Reading: Jooyoun Lee (2018), Yasukuni and Hiroshima in Clash? War and Peace Museums in Contemporary Japan, Pacific Focus 33(1): 5-33.
11 WEEK 11: Ethnic Politics in Asia (Ed Aspinall), 17 May Despite the globalisation trends in the last half century, ethnic identity remains an important part of political contestation. Indeed, it some cases, ethnic fault lines have even sharpened as a result of globalisation and the subsequent opposition to it. In other countries, however, ethnic divisions have been mitigated by strong nation-building processes, with ethnicity largely integrated into a broader set of electoral identity markers. This lecture explores the continued significance of ethnicity in politics in Asia by using the example of Indonesia, but refers to other examples across Asia as well. Required Reading: Edward Aspinall (2011), Democratization and Ethnic Politics in Indonesia: Nine Theses, Journal of East Asian Studies 11: 289-319. Recommended Reading: Colm Fox (2018) Candidate-centric systems and the politicization of ethnicity: evidence from Indonesia, Democratization, 25(7): 1190-1209. Research Essay due on 17 May, 23.55
12 WEEK 12: Domestic Politics, Regional Patterns and International Contexts: How do they Interrelate? (Marcus Mietzner), 24 May In this final week we'll consider the themes of the course and discuss how the largely domestic political phenomon covered in this course plays out in an international context. Required Reading: Ann Marie Murphy (2017) Great Power Rivalries, Domestic Politics and Southeast Asian Foreign Policy: Exploring the Linkages, Asian Security, 13:3, 165-182. Take-Home Exam due on 11 June, 23.55

Tutorial Registration

Tutorial registration is on Wattle.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Participation (10%) 10 % 22/02/2021 24/05/2021 3, 5
First Short Paper (15%) 15 % 22/03/2021 02/04/2021 1, 2, 4
Second Short Paper (15%) 15 % 26/04/2021 10/05/2021 2, 4
Research Essay (30%) 30 % 17/05/2021 27/05/2021 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Take Home Exam (30%) 30 % 11/06/2021 19/06/2021 1, 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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.


See Assessment 1.


See Assessment 5.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 22/02/2021
Return of Assessment: 24/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 3, 5

Participation (10%)

You will be assessed on your tutorial participation. The assessment is primarily based on the quality of your contributions in class (and therefore, not simply on the frequency of your contributions and/or attendance.) After each tutorial, you will receive a mark. Absence is marked as zero, unless documentation on justiable absence is provided. At the end of the semester, the average of your eight best marks achieved throughout the semester will be your total mark for tutorial participation. In order to prepare for the tutorials, it is essential that you have read the required reading and attended/listened to the lecture of that week. The better you are prepared through reflecting on these materials (and, optionally, additional material you researched yourself), the more effectively you will be able to engage in class, and the better your mark will be.

Due to the special circumstances created by the COVID-19 outbreak, some or even all tutorials might be offered online. As some students might not be able to fully contribute as a result of poor internet connections, the course convener accepts brief written commentaries on the main reading of the respective week as a substitute for a contribution made in class. Students who wish to make use of this opportunity should send this brief commentary to the course convener within one week of the tutorial for which the student seeks a substitute participation mark. Students participating in face-to-face tutorials can use the same mechanism if they feel more comfortable making written commentaries than oral contributions in class. However, such students should write to the course convener beforehand and explain their reasons for not being able to contribute in class. Unavailability due to work commitments or similar reasons are not acceptable - the mechanism of substituting oral contributions with brief commentaries in face-to-face classes is designed to accommodate students who can't contribute in class due to psychological barriers, such as fear of bullying or public speaking.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 22/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4

First Short Paper (15%)

The first written assessment required for the course is the First Short Paper on the topic: ‘Does democracy have a future in Asia?’ The essay should be 1000 words, not including references. There are many ways in which you might approach this topic, but keep in mind that the question relates to Asia as a geographic focus. If you wish, you could take one or two countries as case studies, though given the word limit, these will need to be fairly brief. We have provided material in some of the early lectures which might assist you in answering this but you should also make use of web searches to find relevant material, whether it be of a scholarly nature or from reputable sections of the media. 

 The structure of the essay is very important. You need to properly introduce the topic and indicate the line of argumentation that you will be taking. The middle of the essay is for providing background or contextual information that you feel is relevant and, most importantly, supporting data for your argument(s). The essay should end with a (very brief) conclusion which reflects back on your text and its analytical content. 

 The essay should have references acknowledging where you have obtained key pieces of information from. In-text or Harvard-style references are best in a short format such as this, with a short list of references at the end of the essay. But you are generally free to choose any widely accepted citation style. 

Please keep in mind that this writing exercise is worth 15% of the total mark, so you should allocate a proportional amount of time to completing this (in other words, don't overthink it, but also take it seriously enough). The assignment will give us a sense of your writing and allow us to provide you with feedback prior to you preparing your main research essay.

The assignment is due on 22 March at 23.55. Submission is on Wattle through Turnitin.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 26/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 10/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4

Second Short Paper (15%)

In the lecture on 29 March, a task will be released. It will also be posted on Wattle and discussed in the subsequent tutorials. You are asked to write a 1000-word Short Paper to address this task. 

The Second Short Paper constitutes 15% of the total mark. Submission is due on 26 April at 23.55 on Wattle through Turnitin.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 17/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 27/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Essay (30%)

The key assignment in this course is the research essay. You are free to write on any subject you like that falls within the parameters of politics in the Asia-Pacific. This open task gives you the chance to pursue your own interests and define your future profile as a student and, subsequently, professional. We will talk more about this task in the tutorials, and are happy to set up individual consultations to discuss specific questions. Please also refer to the Essay Writing Guide placed on this Wattle site.

The Research Paper constitutes 30% of the total mark. It is due on 17 May at 23.55 on Wattle through Turnitin.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 11/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 19/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 4

Take Home Exam (30%)

A take home exam will be posted on Wattle in the last week of the semester, and must be returned no later than 11 June at 23.55. The Take-Home Exam constitutes 30 % of the total mark. Submission is on Wattle through Turnitin.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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) 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

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day.
  • Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

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

For students in on-campus tutorials, assignments (with the exception of the take-home exams) will be returned as hard copies with written commentary in text and a separate comment sheet. Students in online tutorials will receive their feedback electronically. The time in which the assignment will be returned varies and is based on the length of the assignment. Please refer to the items in the assessment summary for detailed return times.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted 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

Re-submission of assignments after the deadline is only permitted after consultation with the course convener and if the previously submitted version suffered from a technical problem. Before the deadline, students are free to replace their previous submissions at any time.

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).

AsPr Marcus Mietzner

Research Interests

Indonesian politics, particularly the political role of the military and political parties; comparative Southeast Asian politics.

AsPr Marcus Mietzner

Tuesday 17:00 18:00
Tuesday 17:00 18:00
AsPr Marcus Mietzner

Research Interests

AsPr Marcus Mietzner

Tuesday 17:00 18:00
Tuesday 17:00 18:00

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