Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Southeast Asia at the crossroads (c. 1400 to the present)
Academic Year
Semester 2
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Semester Assessment Open examination  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Open examination  2000 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of a substantial body of historical knowledge relating to Southeast Asia since the fifteenth century.

Identify the different factors that facilitated major historical changes, especially the historical interactions between unity and diversity, and between external factors and local agency, and critically assess their roles in shaping Southeast Asia today.

Systematically and critically evaluate strengths and weaknesses of key historical arguments and where necessary challenge them.

Systematically and critically engage with current approaches to non-Western histories, including frameworks that challenge Eurocentric perspectives in the context of post-colonial studies.

Read, analyse and reflect critically on a variety of (translated) primary and secondary sources relating to Southeast Asia.

Brief description

Known as the crossroads of the world, Southeast Asia boasts immense diversity in terms of religions, ethnicities, languages, and cultures; and is home to 11 independent countries—Brunei, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timore Leste, and Vietnam. This module introduces the past five centuries of Southeast Asian history in three periods: the early modern era (c. 1400-1830), the colonial period (1830-1945), and the independent era (post 1945), through key themes and major case studies. In addition, it pays special attention to the dual force that has shaped the region: the regional and global influences including India and China since the early modern era, the European colonial powers, and the two superpowers during the Cold War; and local agency and internal circulations that connect and integrate its mainland and insular sections.


This module is a survey of modern Southeast Asian history, with focus on its historical development under global influences and local agency. It encourages students to form comprehensive approaches to looking beyond modern national borders and seeking for a common, regional trajectory despite its diversity. Multiple sources from contemporary Southeast Asians, others Asian sojourners, and western visitors, will be used to capture the unique dynamics of the region, and to provide students ample opportunities to work with different sources and to develop transferrable skills.


Eighteen lectures
1. What is Southeast Asia?
2. Indianised and Sinicised kingdoms of the classical age
3. The early modern era: mainland
4. The early modern era: islands
5. Colonial states: mainland
6. Colonial states: islands
7. Key themes in the colonial era (I): technology and urbanisation
8. Key themes in the colonial era (II): religion
9. Key themes in the colonial era (III): family and gender
10. Key themes in the colonial era (IV): nationalism and resistance
11. The Japanese occupation: foreign rivalries
12. The Japanese occupation: indigenous opportunities
13. 1945 and the birth of new nations
14. Case studies during the Cold War A: nation-building and social tension
15. Case studies during the Cold War B: military dictatorship
16. Case studies during the Cold War C: ideological conflicts
17. Democracy, economic twists, and ASEAN in the 1990s
18. Memories and history writing in Southeast Asia today

Six seminars:
Using primary sources to investigate key themes, these 6 cases spanning over three time periods (matching those in the lectures) and six major countries (out of 11).
1. Angkor War and the early kingdoms in mainland Southeast Asia
2. Intra-Asian maritime trade in the pre-colonial Malay world
3. Urban women in French Indochina
4. The emergence of Filipino nationalism
5. Post-war revival of Thai handwoven fabrics
6. The 1965 military coup and mass killings in Indonesia

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be introduced to data in the form of tables and figures and a range of quantitative data, which will require some degree of interpretation and understanding.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop knowledge of the historical trajectory of key themes in modern history and contemporary society. Students will also develop ability to identify and assess primary sources, and apply comparative approaches.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6