ASIA3005 Democratisation in Asia

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Non-standard teaching periodHong KongFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Political Science and International Relations; Asian Studies; Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
Under a unifying theme of democratisation, this unit examines the political history, governing systems and leadership transformation in Asian states. Asia is defined generously to include the Middle East and subcontinent as well as Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, mirroring the broad sweep of the post-Cold War wave of democratisation. Following a comprehensive introduction to contending theories of political change and democratic transition, the unit draws on the expertise of staff in Political Science and International Relations and Asian Studies to examine a number of specific countries and regions. Case studies provide an opportunity to explore subthemes such as the relationship between Islam and democracy (Middle East), ethnic diversity (the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia) and the military and democracy (Burma, Indonesia, Thailand). Debates surrounding assumed linkages between economic development and democracy are also examined, with India and Singapore case studies providing fascinating contrasts. Prospects of a democratic China are also explored, drawing lessons from the successful experience of democratic transformation in Taiwan. The unit concludes by drawing comparisons and examining the theoretical implications of the case studies. Democratisation in Asia seeks to complement the study of international relations in East Asia, comparative politics, Asian societies and Australia's foreign policy.

The academic objectives of the unit are to (1) develop knowledge and understanding of key theories of political change and democratic transition; (2) evaluate theoretical debates about the causes, processes and prospects of democracy in the Asian context; (3) develop an appreciation of the variety of political cultures in the Asian region and the multiple paths of democratisation; (4) develop knowledge of specific states and societies experiencing democratic transitions; (5) improve interpersonal and communication skills; and (6) develop the ability to conduct independent research utilising a variety of sources.
Students are able to (1) explain, and engage critically with, the conceptual frameworks, techniques of investigation, core generalisations and key debates associated with the subfield; (2) explain key theories of political change—their utility and limitations in interpreting democracy and democratisation in the Asian context; (3) demonstrate knowledge of post-Cold War debate on democracy and human rights; (4) demonstrate an understanding of the variety of political cultures in the Asian region and the multiple paths of democratisation; (5) explain the operation of political systems in leading states such as Japan, China and Indonesia; (6) communicate independently generated arguments and critical analysis of published research in a coherent and logical manner in both written and oral forms; (7) work collaboratively on substantial research or analytical tasks as a member of a small group, providing and assimilating critical commentary; (8) demonstrate research skills appropriate for locating, assessing and making sophisticated use of relevant primary and secondary materials; (9) demonstrate advanced skills of problem analysis and critical reasoning, strongly informed by relevant theory; and (10) undertake independent, enquiry-based learning and research which reflects advanced knowledge of the subfield.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation and presentation; (2) written assignments; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Jie Chen (Crawley); Associate Professor David Bourchier (Hong Kong)
Unit rules
any Level 2 ASIA unit, Level 2 ANTH unit
Level 2 POLS unit
SOCS2228 Democratisation in Asia
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours; tutorials: 9 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.