POLIS 2131 - South Asia: Conflict, Politics and Economic Change

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

This course examines one of the most populous, diverse and politically and economically dynamic regions in the world. Focussing primarily on India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the course analyses the key domestic challenges and developments facing these countries and the ways in which these domestic issues affect their regional and international strategic calculations. Among the topics to be looked at are: democracy and authoritarianism; caste, class, region and politics; religious nationalism; terrorism; nuclear weapons; insurgencies and separatist movements; and poverty and economic growth. These issues will be explored at both the conceptual and policy levels to give students a solid theoretical and empirical grounding in the study of South Asia. Among the key questions to be explored are: why has democracy flourished in India but not Pakistan; what explains the rise of religious nationalism in South Asia and what impact has it had on foreign policy; what accounts for the rise of Maoism in India and Nepal; what has driven India's economic growth and have the benefits of this growth been evenly spread; how is India negotiating its rise to power; why has the Kashmir conflict been so intractable; have nuclear weapons increased or decreased South Asia's strategic stability and what are the causes and consequences of Sri Lanka's civil conflict?

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 2131
    Course South Asia: Conflict, Politics and Economic Change
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of level 1 undergraduate study
    Incompatible POLI 2131
    Assessment Workshop activities 15%, Take home test 25%, Online test 15%, Essay 45%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Priya Chacko

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    1.    Have a good understanding of the historical and contemporary events and issues facing the countries of South Asia, defined as comprising of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

    2.    Have an awareness of the scholarly debates, concepts and approaches related to the study of various aspects of South Asian politics.

    3.    Have high-quality skills in researching and writing academic essays on the politics of South Asia (These skills will include: pursuing and managing independent research, locating information, critically engaging with the literature, assessing conflicting or different arguments, synthesising information in a clear and logical way).

    4.     Be able to give clear and cogent oral presentations, participate in seminar discussions and problem-solving activities.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Online lectures supported by tutorials developing material covered in lectures.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students are expected to commit 12 hours each week to this course.

    Lectures: 2

    Tutorial: 1

    preparation: 4 hours

    Reading and
    research for assessment: 5 hours

    Learning Activities Summary
    Week 1: Introduction to course

    Week 2: Introduction to South Asian History and Politics
    Week 3: Democracy and authoritarianism in South Asia

    Week 4: A Million Little Mutinies: Caste and Region in Indian politics

    Week 5: Religion and politics in India

    Week 6: Political Islam in Pakistan and Bangladesh

    Week 7: Economic reforms and the persistence of poverty in India

    Week 8: Sri Lanka’s civil war and its aftermath

    Week 9: Maoism in Nepal and India

    Week 10: A Nuclear South Asia: nuclear weapons and nuclear energy

    Week 11: The Regional Politics of South Asia: regional disputes and regional integration

    Week 12: Consultation week
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The Small Group Discovery Experience will take the form of activities in tutorials which are designed to promote independent research skills, team work, presentation skills and problem solving skills.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    1.    Worlkshop activities
    15% of total course mark
    Learning outcome: 1,2,4  

    2.    Take home test
    25% of total course mark
    Summative Due date: TBA
    Learning outcome: 1,2

    3.   Multiple choice test - online
    15% of total course mark
    Due date: TBA
    Learning outcome: 1,2

    4.    Final essay
    45% of total mark
    Due date: TBA
    Learning outcome: 1,2,3
    Assessment Detail
    1. Take-home test

    The take-home test will assess your knowledge and understanding of the concepts, debates and ideas in the required readings from Week 2 to Week 6. The test will consist of four short answer questions related to these readings. Your answers should be about 250-300 words long.

    The take-home test paper will be posted on MyUni. The paper must be downloaded and your answers must be typed in the space provided and submitted online via MyUni (see below in 5.4)

    2. Workshop activities
     The workshops are forums for free exchange and discussion of informed opinions, that is, ideas and thoughts based on reading and reflection, as well as places for raising questions and for the exchange of relevant information. All students are expected to have read the required readings in preparation for the workshops. Workshop participation will be assessed on the basis of the depth of knowledge on the weekly topic, the quality of engagement with the weekly readings, and the attitude displayed towards the arguments and contributions of others.

    3. Online test
    The online test will assess your knowledge and understanding of the concepts, debates and ideas in the required readings from week 7 to week 11 as well the lecture materials from week 2 to week 11. The questions will be posted on MyUni one day before the test is made available on MyUni. You will have 1 hour to answer 20 questions.

    4. Essay
    The final essay should be 2500 words long excluding references.

    The major essay will assess your knowledge of key concepts, ideas and debates in the study of South Asia. It will require you to develop logical arguments that are backed up with evidence. The assessment will test your ability to conduct independent research and formulate well-substantiated arguments

    The essay must be typed, double-spaced, fully referenced and include a bibliography. You can use any referencing system as long as it is used consistently and includes page numbers in references. Please consult the Politics Department’s Essay-Writing Guide for further guidelines.

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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