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Unit information: Politics of South Asia in 2015/16

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Unit name Politics of South Asia
Unit code POLI29003
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Wyatt
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will introduce students to the politics of modern South Asia. The unit will focus on the politics of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The unit will provide a broad overview of politics in this region beginning with a survey of the colonial period of state formation, early nation building and the uneven consolidation of political institutions. The unit will examine a number of conflicts that have complicated the process of national building. These include the 1947 partition of India, the divide between West and East Pakistan, the confilict over Kashmir and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.


  • To introduce students to the political history of South Asia
  • To introduce students to key texts on South Asian politics
  • To demonstrate the challenge of post-colonial state formation
  • To develop a critical and comparative understanding of contemporary South Asian politics.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this unit students will:

  1. demonstrate familiarity with the political development of the states of South Asia
  2. be familiar with the broad sweep of literature on the politics of South Asia
  3. be able to integrate empirical evidence into persuasive arguments and articulate these in seminars and oral presentations
  4. be able to integrate empirical evidence into comparative arguments sustained in a substantial piece of written work
  5. be able to critically assess the place of nationalism in the politics of the region

Teaching details

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour seminar

Assessment Details

  • 2,000 word Essay 25%
  • Unseen exam 75%
  • Formative Presentation

Reading and References

C. Bates (2007), Subalterns and Raj, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • N. DeVotta (2004), Blowback: linguistic nationalism, institutional decay, and ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Y. Malik, C.H. Kennedy, R.C. Oberst, A. Kapur, M. Lawoti, & S. Rahman (2008), Government and Politics in South Asia, Boulder: Westview, 6th Edition.
  • I. Talbot (2009), Pakistan: A Modern History, London: Hurst