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 overlapping courses.
The semester begins with a course (6 credits) that introduces the students to Asian Studies. It is followed by two thematic courses (each of 12 credits) that discuss central political and economic issues in East and South-East Asia.
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.
COSM01 Course syllabus in English (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)
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 the 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)
The second semester consists of three courses (the first of 15 credits and the following two of 7.5 credits). The first course is a country or regional specialisation course where the students choose to deepen their studies in contemporary studies of China, Japan/Korea, or South-East Asia, the second course is International Relations of East and South-East Asia, the third course is the first of two methodology courses on the programme.
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. Digital development and its importance for 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 films.
COSM23 Course syllabus in English (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. The 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 ageing population, gender inequality and migration are discussed.
COSM24 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
The course is divided into four parts where the first part provides a basic understanding of the region’s sociocultural 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 contemporary societies.
COSM25 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
The course deals with the international relations in East and South-East Asia. It begins with an introduction to basic theories about international relations and continues with a short historical overview focusing on the post-war period. Subsequently, the course deals with the following most important regional questions: 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 will enable students to develop their ability to critically assess and analyse theories and use empirical examples from the region.
COSM27 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
COSM27 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)
The course deals with methodological issues linked to the structure, design, and writing of a thesis for a master's degree in Asian Studies. In addition to a general overview of ontological and epistemological discussions in the social sciences, the course provides knowledge of tools for organising research material.
The course presents the content of the central theoretical and methodological schools within the social sciences. From a theoretical perspective, the course focuses on issues such as the nature of evidence in social research, on the difference between causal explanations and interpretations, on ‘language’ in social research, on historical and philosophical meanings of ‘science’ and the importance of ethical and normative issues in social science.
COSM21 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
During the third semester, the students take three thematic elective courses (7.5 credits each) either at the Centre for East and South-East Asia studies, at another institution at Lund University, or at another approved university in Sweden or abroad.
You can also spend this semester abroad as an exchange student provided you have been nominated for exchange studies by the Faculty. You apply for exchange studies in the first semester. Find out more about the possibility of exchange studies.
The elective courses should be in line with the student's thesis topic and should be approved by the Director of Study. 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 third semester concludes with the second compulsory methods course (7.5 credits). Students opting to study abroad during the third semester will be required to take the methodology course remotely.
The Centre offers a range of elective courses (see list below). Please note that courses may be cancelled and new courses may also be added. This is meant as a guide and represents some of the courses that have regularly been given at the Centre.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
In this course, different religions and the religious development in East and South-East Asia are studied through ethnographic works and film. The course studies the major religious traditions in the region, such as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Shinto, as well as folk religions and new religions. In the course, religion and society in contemporary East and South-East Asia are studied from an anthropological perspective. The focus is on how religions affect and in turn, are affected by the development of 'modern' and 'post-industrial' societies in East and South-East Asia. Students thus gain a deeper understanding of the socio-economic and political context of religious practices and communities. Furthermore, they get to study and develop the theoretical and methodological skills that are required to analyse ethnographic works and visual material. The course studies the religions of East and South-East Asia in change and in relation to gender, ethnicity, environment, economy and technology. The focus is on: processes of identity formation and socialisation within different religions and religious communities; the impact of religion on societies and politics; different types of religious activities; different theories, methods and ethnographic approaches in the study of religion; the different characteristics and skills in anthropological writing.
COSM38 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
The course provides an overview of different types of documentary films in selected countries in East and Southeast Asia. The course studies the development of documentary films and the historical, socio-economic and political context in which films are produced, circulated and shown. The course analyses both individual documentary filmmakers, including the extent to which factors such as gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic conditions play a role in filmmaking, and actors in civil society who produce and use film. The course also studies the emergence of local and regional documentary film festivals and their role. Documentary films are studied as part of civil society where the focus is on how the films both reflect current societal issues and problems and affect the general debate and societal development. Documentary films are also analysed as an expression of protest and activism. The course focuses on and shows films related to a number of themes such as history and memories, gender, justice and human rights, environmental issues, and migration. Critical perspectives on representation and ethical issues are discussed in the course. The course takes on an interdisciplinary perspective on how documentary film can contribute to strengthening the understanding of complex social and political conditions in East and Southeast Asia. Various concepts, theories and methods are introduced in order to be able to analyse documentary film and film production in a socio-political context.
COSM39 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
The course deals with methodological issues linked to the structure, design, and writing of a thesis for a master's degree in Asian Studies. The course covers different methodological approaches within the social sciences as well as specific research methods and related techniques.
From an organisational and methodological perspective, the purpose of the course is to develop skills in designing, planning, implementing, writing, and evaluating research on Asia. The course covers central methods for qualitative and quantitative research with associated techniques and during the course the student develops skills to effectively deal with and report data, findings, and conclusions.
COSM31 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)
During the fourth semester, you concentrate entirely on your thesis. You collect material, possibly through fieldwork 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)
The official academic year at Lund University (autumn + spring) is divided into two semesters of 20 weeks each:
Autumn semester 2023:
28 August 2023 – 14 January 2024
Spring semester 2024:
15 January 2024 – 2 June 2024
Do fieldwork in Asia!
During the fourth semester you have the possibility to travel to Asia to carry out fieldwork and collect material for your master thesis