Outline of the programme

Academic achievements (the student workload) at Lund University are measured according to a credit system. 1.5 credits equal approximately one week of full-time studies. Thus, after one semester of successful full-time studies (participating according to requirements and passing the examinations) you will be awarded 30 credits.

Courses at the Centre usually consist of 7.5 or 15 credits each. Courses are always taken consecutively one at a time, so that there are no over-lapping courses.

First semester

The first semester of the programme begins with a course introducing you to Asian studies and the main challenges and theoretical concepts used in area studies and interdisciplinary studies. This is followed by thematic and region-specific courses discussing the major social, economic and political issues in the respective areas.

The course provides a critical, comparative and interdisciplinary introduction to studies of East and South-East Asia's societies. The course provides an overview of Asian Studies using central concepts and approaches in social sciences and the humanities, and deepens the study of East and South-East Asia's societies by emphasising the shifting contexts and content of knowledge in this field. A critical perspective is applied. Western knowledge formation about East and South-East Asia. Furthermore, new theories and approaches that have arisen through the study of East and South-East Asia's societies, e.g. theories of post-colonialism that have been questioned and enriched Western social sciences, are discussed and analysed. The course takes a gender perspective on today's societies in East and South-East Asia that creates awareness about issues concerning gender, power and representativeness. The course provides an introduction to academic writing and the opportunity to apply this knowledge in short written works. Furthermore, the students practise critical thinking and deliberative discussions in discussing research ethics and academic freedom and their importance for knowledge development.

COSM10 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM10 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course covers economic development in East and South-East Asia. The rapid industrialisation processes and the socio-economic modernisation processes in East and South-East Asia are studied and explained from a comparative historical institutional perspective. Basic factors and driving forces are analysed against the background of prevailing theories of economic and social development. All countries in the region can be used as examples, but there is a particular focus on the following groups of countries divided according to the degree of industrialisation: 1) Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, 2) Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, and 3) China and Vietnam. Institutional theory is used to analyse the emergence of the so-called East Asian model for economic growth and development as well as current trends and driving forces for globalisation in the region.

COSM11 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM11 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course provides an overview of general theories of political systems, governance and democratisation. This includes theories about authoritarian forms of government as well as political systems of a hybrid nature. The aim is that the student should gain an ability to make comparative analyses and apply these theories to the situation in East and South-East Asia.

The course is designed as an introduction to the different political systems in East and South-East Asia. Furthermore, different forms of political change and political leadership are discussed. The course covers the influences of religion, society and culture on political changes. The role of the military is also covered, as well as the influence of economics on both national and international policy. The course also discusses the significance of regional organisation and multinational cooperation for present-day political development.

COSM12 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM12 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

Second semester

The second semester consists of one region specific course where you choose which region you want to focus on and a course in research methods. You can choose one of the following regions: China, Japan/Korea or South-East Asia.

The course surveys and analyzes the momentous cultural, social, political and economic changes that have taken place in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the early 1980s. The course starts with a brief account of contemporary history, religion and culture, as well as geography and demography. The course examines the co-existence of continuity and change in relation to identity, beliefs, and social and political values. It particularly addresses how social and political developments affect different individuals and groups of people such as women, religious groups and ethnic minorities, workers, peasants and officials. The course also focuses on different institutions and organizations such as work places, civic associations, the media, and legal and political institutions. Furthermore, it discusses and contextualizes issues and problems concerning poverty and inequality, citizenship and governance, freedom of expression, demographic changes, environment and urbanization. All the questions in the course are discussed from a gender perspective. The digital development and its importance for the Chinese society is a special focus, as is China’s growing regional and global role.

The course is divided into four parts: history, culture and traditions, geography and demography; media, law and civil society; rural and urban developments, ideology and politics; and welfare, economic developments and the environment. The course builds on theories from different disciplines at the same time as an interdisciplinary perspective is stimulated. The course also makes use of and analyzes visual materials such as documentary film.

COSM23 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM23 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course analyses cultural, social and political issues in contemporary Japanese and Korean societies. The course takes a multidisciplinary perspective and is divided into four parts. The first part provides a general understanding of the social and political processes in Japan and North Korea and South Korea. The countries history and impact on contemporary Japanese and Korean societies are discussed. The focus is on the post-Cold War era.

The second part of the course makes comparisons between Japan and Korea and in particular similarities between Japan and South Korea. Themes that are discussed include the impact of colonialism on North Korea and South Korea, the partition of the two countries, and the post-War authoritarian regimes.

The third part of the course addresses the role of the media and how it creates both continuities and changes in Japan and Korea. The study of the role of media provides a deeper understanding of the countries political and socio-cultural dynamics. In this part of the course China’s influence on Japan and Korea is also discussed.

The fourth part of the course addresses the challenges that Japan and Korea are facing. In this part the countries changing demographics and the connection between an aging population, gender inequality and migration are discussed.

COSM24 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

COSM24 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course is divided into four parts where the first part provides a basic understanding of the region’s socio-cultural processes. The historical context and its impact on contemporary South-East Asian societies are discussed. It discusses religion as a field of meanings that informs individual people’s lives and strengthens social and political identities, and influences social and political discourses.

The second part of the course addresses the political and economic context of South-East Asia. Theories from different disciplines and ethnographic material are used to discuss these topics.

The third part of the course addresses the socio-economic development in South-East Asia. The aim is to investigate the gap between rich and poor and address development from a gender perspective.

The fourth part of the course discusses contemporary culture and popular culture in South-East Asia and provides a broader perspective on the contemporary societies.

COSM25 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

COSM25 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course deals with methodological issues relating to the organisation, design and writing of a master’s thesis. In addition to the general introduction to ontological and epistemological debates in the social sciences, the students get acquainted with organisational tools and methodological approaches in social research including a related range of specific methods and techniques.

The course aims to present the key schools of theoretical and methodological thought in the social sciences. From the perspective of theory, the course focuses on issues such as the nature of justification in social inquiry, the distinction between causal explanation and interpretative understanding, the role of language in social inquiry, the historical and philosophical meaning of science, and the importance of ethical and normative questions in the social sciences.

From the organisational and methodological perspective, the objective is to develop skills in designing, planning, carrying out, writing up and appraising research related to Asia. The course introduces the students to the main methods in qualitative and quantitative research and related techniques, and provides the tools for students to effectively present data, findings and conclusions.

COSM22 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

COSM22 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

Third semester

The third semester is divided into four periods. During the first three periods you choose one 7,5 credit elective course per period and during the fourth period you study a mandatory data collection and analysis course.

The elective courses can be studied either at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies or another institution at Lund University, or at another approved university in Sweden or abroad. It is also possible to go away on exchange studies this semester. Find out more about the possibility of exchange studies.

The courses you take during this semester should be line with the your thesis topic and be approved by the program coordinator. The elective courses will enable you to tailor the programme to suit your particular interests and will deepen your understanding of various aspects of Asian societies and prepare you for your thesis work.

The Centre offers a range of elective courses (see list below for courses currently offered). Please note that courses may be cancelled and new courses may also be added. This is meant as a guide and represent some of the courses that have regularly been given at the Centre.

Elective courses

The course examines and analyzes Asia's role in the global economy. The course initially introduces theoretical reasoning regarding economic geography and development and applies them to case studies in Asia. The course then focuses on theories and concepts that explain national and global economic conditions with an emphasis on global supply chains. The course analyzes the global organization of production systematically with a focus on five different areas: financial market, trade, industrial relations, multinational companies, and innovation.

The aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the factors, processes and consequences that globally organized production brings to individuals and nations in Asia. The course discusses economic theories from an interdisciplinary perspective to promote a critical understanding.

COSM32 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM32 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The aim of the course is to enable the students to critically analyze the problems and prospects that exist for human rights work in Asia. The focus is on the cultural, social, economic and political factors that prevent or promote the application of human rights protection in different societies in Asia. Differences and similarities with regard to problems and policies regarding human rights in the region are analyzed and discussed. The participation of various Asian countries in the international system for the protection of human rights and in various rights instruments is analyzed.

The course examines the relationship between international legislation to protect human rights and national legislation. It also provides an introduction to local and regional debates as well as the work on human rights, with a particular focus on the major differences between different states and NGOs regarding the work and priorities regarding human rights. The course is based on central texts in the international legislation on human rights, but aims to integrate international law theory with social and political science theory and area studies. The course advocates and applies an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human rights, which is reflected in the teaching, choice of subjects and course literature.

COSM33 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM33 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course offers an interdisciplinary study of central theories on how socio-economic development has occurred in today's Asia. The purpose is to give the students tools for theoretically analyzing, discussing, and debating contemporary development issues by critically examining how development is conceptualized - from modernization theories to neomarxist theories, from neoliberalism to post / alternative development - and this with a special focus on historical heritage. and future challenges.

In the course, a critical approach is taken to development theories and their impact on the most urgent areas for development, while illuminating contradictions and convergence points between different theoretical traditions. The course also deals with the development practice and actors as well as the role that NGOs play through detailed case studies that the students discuss and learn from. The course starts with a discussion of the group's "knowledge" and "needs" and makes it possible for the students to focus on a specific question among the many areas the course addresses.

COSM34 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM34 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course studies and analyzes the development and use of different types of ICT (such as the Internet, social media, mobile phones and apps) in the light of the various social, economic, and political systems in Asia. Local development is also analyzed based on regional and global trends and processes. The course highlights the various concepts, theories and methods used to study digital development. This means that the course is based on different fields of science, eg. media and communication science, cultural science, anthropology, political science and area studies with a focus on Asian studies, while applying an interdisciplinary perspective. The course focuses on various themes that take into account factors such as gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and age. The student is encouraged to apply theoretical and methodological insights from the course literature to their own case studies that illustrate the use of different types of ICT among individuals and groups in different countries. The themes that the course addresses are:

  • processes of identity creation and socialization through e.g. blogging, gambling, and the use of social media
  • how ICT affects the emergence of new social networks and groups, eg interest groups, civil society, and citizen journalists
  • social and political activities, eg how ICT is used by political leaders and in political parties, within new popular movements and during protests
  • new methods and ethnographic approaches as a result of the development of ICT

COSM35 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM35 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The aim of the course is to enable the students to ask questions and to design studies on social (in) justice and social (in) equality in Asia that are linked to contemporary theoretical discussions. Contemporary theory has tended to go beyond normative (western) definitions to instead formulate justice and equality as a substantive result of social relations and in relation to globalization, democracy, legitimacy, membership, identity, and so on. The course initially gives a review of contemporary interdisciplinary discussions on social justice and social equality and then proceeds with more in-depth studies where the students read and discuss a selection of leading theoretical works from different fields of science, eg political science, sociology, anthropology, development studies and gender science.

Then the main part of the course follows, where the students study different examples of research in Asian studies in which the theoretical perspectives have been applied and / or questioned or where they may be applicable. In course assignments, group work and seminar discussions, the students practice their ability to critically evaluate how applicable a particular theory is to different empirical examples and their ability to design theoretically relevant studies.

COSM36 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM36 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

The course studies the international relations in Asia. The course initially reviews the basic theories in international relations and then continues with a brief historical overview with emphasis on the post-war period. The course then focuses on the following main regional issues: power rivalry, identity and historical memory, territorial disputes and non-traditional security issues, such as public diplomacy, soft power, and environmental and food safety. The course is based on the student's active participation and in the course the student develops his / her ability to critically evaluate and analyze theories and use empirical examples from the region.

COSM37 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM37 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

Mandatory course

The course covers the what, how and why questions that are fundamental for successful implementation of the degree project work. It concerns

  1. what data is needed to answer the research issues?
  2. how is such data to be collected and analysed?
  3. why are the specific data, research methods and analytical tools the most appropriate for the study?

Through a series of practical exercises, the students receive training in organising and planning data collection. Thereafter, the students write detailed drafts of their degree project plans in which they specify their choice of data and methods for data collection and analysis. The aim of the course is to complete an initial degree project plan. The lecturer's main role is to supervise the students' individually and in groups in their work to create feasible plans for their degree project work. The lectures cover subjects such as general knowledge of data collection and analysis, ethical considerations and the practical aspects of writing a research plan. Through the practical exercises, the students have the opportunity to receive training in different data collection techniques, and through the seminars they have a forum for peer evaluation and discussion of their degree project plans.

COSM30 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
COSM30 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

Fourth semester

During the fourth semester, you concentrate entirely on your thesis. You collect material, possibly through field work in Asia with the support of one of our partner universities, and you submit your thesis at the end of the semester.

The Master’s thesis is the culmination of the student’s work during the programme and should address social, cultural, political and/or economic issues in contemporary Asia. The work consists mainly of the student completing a study and collecting material, possibly in the region, and writing an independent thesis of 30 högskolepoäng. The work is guided by a supervisor who provides constructive feedback on the basic structure of the study and during the course of the work. The length of the thesis should be approximately 15,000 words and have to be defended at a seminar.

The work consists mainly of the student completing a study and collecting material, possibly in the region, and writing an independent thesis of 30 högskolepoäng. The work is guided by a supervisor who provides constructive feedback on the basic structure of the study and during the course of the work.

The length of the thesis should be approximately 15,000 words and have to be defended at a seminar.

COSM40 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

COSM40 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)