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Courses during the 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 fieldwork course either at one our partner universities in Asia or here in Lund.

During this semester you study three elective courses (7.5 credits each) 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. The elective courses 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, including courses on the economy, international relations, gender, human rights, development, media and popular culture, religion and politics, and environmental issues.

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

ACES40: International relations in Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES43: Human Rights in Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES44: Development theories and issues in Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES46: Religion, identity, politics and society in Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES47: (Un)sustainable  Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES50: Digital Asia: Cultural, Social and Political Transformations (7,5 credits)
ACES52: Social Justice and Social Equality in Asia (7,5 credits)
ACES53: Asia in Global and Regional Politics (7,5 credits)

Mandatory course

ACES13: Applied Fieldwork (7,5 credits)


Elective courses

ACES40: International relations in Asia (7,5 credits)

This course presents some general perspectives of International Relations. Using a framework consisting of different levels of analysis, central concepts and theories are discussed. At one level, the international system is the focus of analysis and problems concerning international security, international political economy, and North-South relations are dealt with. At another level of analysis, the focus is on the actors in international politics. Here we deal with issues of transnational actors and international organisations, environmentalism, nationalism and ethnicity, cultural conflict, postcolonialism, regionalism and integration, terrorism, human rights and gender issues. The third level is concentrated on the interaction between two or more actors. At this level national and international conflict and cooperation is analyzed. Examples will focus on East, South-East and South Asia.

ACES40 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

ACES40 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)


ACES43: Human Rights in Asia (7,5 credits)

The aim of the course is to enable students to critically analyse the problems and prospects for human rights implementation in Asia. The course focuses on the cultural, social, economic and political factors that obstruct or support the realisation of human rights in different Asian societies. Differences and similarities with respect to human rights problems and policies in the region are analysed and discussed. Asian countries’ participation in the international human rights regime is analysed, including the ratification of different human rights instruments.

The course studies the relationship between international human rights law and national law. It also introduces students to local and regional debates and work on human rights, with special attention to the often widely different approaches to and priorities in human rights work among governments and NGOs. The course addresses a wide range of human rights issues, including the rights of different groups of people such as children, women, and minorities. The course builds upon standard works in international human rights law but aims to integrate international legal theory with social and political theories and area studies. An interdisciplinary approach to the study of human rights is advocated and used throughout the course. This is reflected both in the teaching, choice of topics, and in the selection of literature.

ACES43 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

ACES43 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

ACES44: Development theories and issues in Asia (7,5 credits)

The course offers an interdisciplinary in-depth study of the major issues surrounding development today. The aim is to provide students with tools for theoretically analyzing and discussing contemporary development issues by examining various theories of development – from modernization, and neo-Marxist theories, to neo-liberal, post-modern, post-development, as well as alternative forms of development and the challenges for the future.

The course looks critically at development theories and their impact on the most urgent areas of development as well as highlight controversies and points of convergence that exist between different theoretical traditions. It also covers the practices and agents of development and the role of NGOs, presenting detailed case studies for the students to discuss and learn from. The course starts with a discussion of the “knowledge” and “needs” of the class, and as it covers a wide range of topics it is possible for students to concentrate on specific issues of interest. 

ACES44 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

ACES44 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

ACES46: Religion, identity, politics and society in Asia (7,5 credits)

The course deals with broader religious developments in Asia, as well as with in-depth analyses of cases in East, South-East and South Asia. The course provides the students with overviews of contemporary religious developments in East, South-East and South Asia. It aims at exploring religions in constant change, as expressions of the time and place where they are observed, not as static traditions. Particular theoretical attention is paid to the impact on religion from modernisation, globalisation and commodification. Religion as an important part of power structures, including gender relations, is analysed.

The discussions focus on how individuals, groups and nations use religious traditions in multiple ways, for instance; as sources for identity, as inspiration for theoretical ideologies and in legitimizing practical political policies and strategies. Processes of revitalisation and innovation include religious influence on media, pop culture and consumer culture, as well as the emergence of new religious movements.

Seminars allow the students to focus on a geographical area or issue of their own choice.

ACES46 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

ACES46 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

ACES47: (Un)sustainable  Asia (7,5 credits)

The course deals with contemporary issues relating to (un)sustainable development in Asia in a global context. In addition to a general introduction to the concept of sustainability and frameworks for identifying, studying and understanding sustainability, the students get acquainted with a range of issues and implications of (un)sustainable development in the context of contemporary Asia.

The course proceeds from the notion that sustainability is multi-dimensional, multi-scalar and multi-temporal and must be approached from an international, intergenerational and intersectional perspectives. Single issues can be studied on local, national and global levels.

The course aims to provide an opportunity for reflection on sustainability challenges, responses and implications in Asia in a global context. The objective is to develop skills in identifying, locating and tracing challenges and responses to sustainability in Asia and to problematise, understand and suggest options for tackling these within a global context.

The course introduces trans-disciplinary frames and theoretical debates including the concepts of Sustainability, Sustainability Science, Earth System Studies and Earth System Governance.

There is a focus on global and Asian sustainability challenges and responses relating to issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, overfishing, land use and degradation, food security, water scarcity, and health.

The reshaping of Asian landscapes (such as deforestation, regulation of water courses, urban sprawl, tarmacisation) and changes in values in times of profound economic and social change is discussed.

The tools include constructing, analysing and interpreting data on sustainability issues as well as presenting, discussing and evaluating data, conclusions and future scenarios.

ACES47 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window) 

ACES47 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

ACES50: Digital Asia: Cultural, Social and Political Transformations (7,5 credits)

The ubiquitous use of ICTs in daily life has led to a growing interest among scholars to address this phenomenon and study its impact on cultural, social and political practices and processes. We can identify a digital turn in the social sciences. The course makes use of insights and theories from different disciplines, such as media and communication studies, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, political science and area studies in the study of Asian digital societies. Students are introduced to different theories, concepts, approaches, and methodologies with a particular focus on works addressing the Asian experiences. The course addresses different types of ICTs, including the Internet, social media, mobile phones and apps, in the context of both global processes and the cultural, social, political and economic context and development of different Asian societies. The course focuses on different themes and fields while paying attention to factors such as gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and age:

Identity formation and socialization processes (for example through blogging, gaming, and mobile phone and social media use).
Social networking and community building (for example among civil society, youth, interest communities)
Social and political activism (for example in traditional politics, new social movements, citizen journalism).
Digital methodologies and ethnographic practices

The course introduces students to theoretical and interdisciplinary studies, studies of the digital society in the West and Asia, and comparisons between and within different Asian societies. It encourages students to apply theoretical and methodological insights from the course in their own case studies/theses on different Asian countries and particular ICTs.

ACES50 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

ACES50 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)


ACES52: Social Justice and Social Equality in Asia (7,5 credits)


The aim of this course is to enable students to address questions and frame inquiries of social (in)justice and social (in)equalities in Asian contexts in ways that are relevant to current theoretical discussions. A tendency in recent theory is the attempt to move beyond normative (western) definitions, and instead conceive of justice and equality in more substantial terms, as embedded in social relations and linked to issues of globalization, democracy, legitimacy, membership, identity, and so forth. The course first offers an overview of the recent, multidisciplinary discussion on social justice and social equality, followed by a more in-depth study where students read and discuss a selection of original theoretical works from different disciplines, including political science, sociology, anthropology, development studies, and gender studies. Subsequently, in what constitutes the main part of the course work, the students read a variety of published research in Asian Studies where the same theoretical approaches have been applied and/or challenged, or may be applicable. At the same time, in their course assignment, group work and seminar discussions, the students actively train their ability to critically evaluate the applicability of the same theoretical approaches to various sets of empirical cases, as well as their capacity to frame theoretically relevant inquiries. 

ACES52 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

ACES52 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)


ACES53: Asia in Global and Regional Politics (7,5 credits)

This is a specialisation course in Asian Studies focusing on the international relations of the region. It starts with the main theories of international relations and then continues with a short historical overview focusing mainly on the post-war period. Subsequently, the course deals with the following most important regional questions: great power rivalry, identity and historical memory, territorial disputes and nontraditional security issues, such as public diplomacy, "soft power" and environmental and food safety. The course is based on the student's active participation, and the students develop their ability to critically evaluate and analyse theories and usem empirical examples from the region.

ACES53 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)

ACES53 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)


4th period

December/January - mandatory course

ACES13: Applied Fieldwork (7,5 credits)

The course is interdisciplinary and deals with the application of research methods and specific techniques in relation to the design and writing of a master thesis. During this period the student can travel to Asia to carry out fieldwork for the master thesis. The student will then be affiliated with one of the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies’ academic partners in Asia. The course is organized by the partner institution in collaboration with the Centre.

Peking University, China (new window)

Waseda University, Japan (new window)

Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia (new window)

Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India (new window)

Read more about the courses in Asia

For those who cannot go to Asia a course is also offered in Lund.

The coursework is primarily based on the students’ thesis topics with the applied aspects of the project plans, such as adaptation to current local conditions in the area of fieldwork, access to data and populations, identification of data sources, key informants, alternative research strategies, etc. The aim of the course is to finalize the preliminary research plan, and put it to work. The basic idea of the course is to use the student’s project plans as a starting point to discuss various problems of applied fieldwork.

ACES13 Course syllabus in English (PDF - new window)  

ACES13 Course plan in Swedish (PDF - new window)

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Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies
Lund University
Sölvegatan 18 B, 223 62 Lund

Phone: +46 46 222 38 61
E-mail: info [at] ace [dot] lu [dot] se