Asian and International Studies MA

 
  

Fact file

Qualification
MA Asian and International Studies
Duration
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Mature applications without standard entry requirements but with substantial and relevant experience may be considered
IELTS
6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September
Campus
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.
 

Overview

An ideal foundation for a career in Asia, this course includes the opportunity to spend time in either China or Malaysia, developing your knowledge and experience of the culture and politics of the region.
Read full overview

On this tri-campus MA programme, you will study at our UK campus for the first semester, moving to either our Ningbo, China campus or Malaysia campus for the second. This provides you with the genuinely distinctive opportunity to study the countries of Asia, and the relations between them and the rest of the world.

This course is taught by academics across the University's UK, China and Malaysia campuses, who are experts on Asian politics, history and international relations.

The core module, Global Asia, will introduce you to Pan-Asian themes such as nationalism, globalisation, environmental challenges, resource politics and gender relations. It challenges the prevailing conception of 'Asia Rising' as a new phenomenon and will also allow you to specialise on specific country or regional studies.

You will be able to immerse yourself in the culture of these countries and take language options if required. Accommodation will be organised by the University, although it is not covered by the course fees.

Key facts

  • The school is home to the interdisciplinary Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies, which provides opportunities for engagement with policy practitioners on our UK, China and Malaysia campuses
  • The School of Politics and International Relations was ranked in the UK top 15 for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • We are in the top 100 worldwide for politics and international relations in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
 

Course details

All students will take a core module, an additional minimum of 20 credits, and a maximum of 40 credits in the autumn semester from a list of modules offered by the School of Politics and International Relations (UK campus). You will also have the opportunity to take 20 credits of options outside the school.

Your studies will culminate in the research and writing of a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation, which must be related to Asia. This represents a substantial piece of independent research drawing on primary source material as well as secondary literature. You will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

Teaching is spread across two semesters: autumn, which begins in September and ends in January; and spring, which begins in January and ends in June. You will spend the summer months between June and September writing your dissertation.

Student profiles

Carlotta PanchettiBeing passionate about the South East Asian region and its culture, I decided to go to Malaysia for my spring semester and I am currently living in Kuala Lumpur.

This course offers a combination of high quality education, practical experience in the region of study and personal growth. One of the main benefits of living, while studying, in Asia is the possibility to confront and verify (whenever possible) the concepts learnt in class and to interact with other students from the region.

Read more...

The modules I chose for my current semester are all Asian centred:

  • The International Relations of South East Asia focuses on the actors, structures and processes that animate the region
  • Development and Governance: Building Democracy in the Developing World explores the processes that shape political regimes and enables the democratisation process in developing realities
  • Human Security, a module in partnership with the Red Cross - Red Crescent movement, focuses on humanitarian action, humanitarian diplomacy and disaster management with guest lecturers from the field including the Regional Director of the Red Cross and simulation of operational activities

One of the other perks of living in Kuala Lumpur includes the possibility to easily travel around Malaysia and the whole South East Asian region during weekends and public holidays such as the Chinese New Year in order to experience (and not just study) the Asian culture. The MA also offers the opportunity to have an £800 travel bursary in order to cover part of the travel expenses from the UK and back.

 
 

Carlotta Panchetti


Gabriel LeathamI chose this course because it seemed like an adventure. I initially thought that I was limited in my options because of my lack of foreign languages, so was looking in the UK and a few places in Europe which taught in English. But when I saw that I could study in China, in English, I decided to go for it.

The split-campus nature of the course seemed like a good first step to studying abroad; if I hated the food I'd only have to put up with it for a couple of months, while still getting a taste for living in another country.

Read more...

Because the campus is run by the University of Nottingham, I'm still getting the same quality of education as I would have in the UK. In fact, this course being based in China means that a lot of the professors here are really experts in their subjects, being passionate enough to live in Asia while researching it. It's also a good way to get more specific in your own studies; I've decided to focus on the Chinese-Japanese relationship due to being here, and it means that doing field research is a lot more feasible than flying halfway across the world to visit a library.

The location also has its benefits for travelling in general; there are lots of things to do in the area and in Ningbo itself. Shanghai in particular is a favourite for weekends away, and internal flights in China can be pretty cheap to anywhere if you plan ahead.

Living here is also a good opportunity to find out more about Chinese culture. They run Mandarin classes, you can have a Chinese 'buddy' to help show you the ropes, and we've had things like calligraphy classes and tea-ceremonies organised by the societies here. I was also impressed by the amount and variety of international students here; initially I thought it would only be students from the UK and Malaysia campuses, but there are people from all over who study here full-time.

I'm very happy I've chosen to come here; the people, the place, and even the weather have been treating me well so far.

 
 

Gabriel Leatham

 
 

Modules

Core

Dissertation on Asian and International Studies

This module involves the researching and writing of a substantive dissertation within the field of Asia and international studies. The dissertation must be between 14,000-16,000 words.

 
Global Asia

This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia. It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.

Topics will include:

  • democracy and democratisation
  • authoritarianism and hybrid regimes
  • "Asian values" and humanitarianism, nationalism, political economy of development
  • gender relations
  • affirmative action
  • terrorism, non-traditional security and human security
  • resource politics
  • nuclear Asia
  • environmental challenges
  • globalisation
  • Asia on the global stage
 

Optional

You will take a minimum of 20 credits and a maximum of 40 credits from the following list in the autumn semester:

China and the World

This module introduces you to the traditional Chinese and the Maoist world views, though it focuses on the changes that have taken place since the start of the reform period.

It explores how domestic politics and other developments have contributed on the one hand to the rise of China as a great power of the first league, and to the emergence of a nineteenth century European type of nationalism on the other.

It addresses China's use of force in support of foreign policy as well as its attempts to project soft power. It also reviews China's relations with its major partners or competitors, including the USA, the EU (including the UK), and the importance of Taiwan in China's relations with the rest of the world.

 
Comparative Democratic Development

At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals.

To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy:

  • What is democracy? 
  • Why are some countries democratic and others not? 
  • How did democracy emerge in different countries? 
  • What difference does democracy make for people's lives? 

The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.

 
Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society

The module introduces you to key concepts in the understanding of contemporary Chinese culture and features of Chinese society, including:

  • continuity and change in the Chinese family
  • rural and urban society
  • Chinese youth and generational identity
  • ethnicity and religion in contemporary China
  • the arts and popular culture
 
EU-China: Trade, Aid and Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century

In this module, you will learn about the state-of-the-art of western engagement with China during the past 35 years (1978-), in particular western trade and development policies towards China and gain insights into the interplay between bilateral and multilateral development agencies and Chinese domestic partner organisations.

Participants learn to critique emerging partnerships between international NGOs and domestic civil society organisations and academic institutions. Drawing both on primary and secondary sources you will familiarise yourself with the increasingly lively international debates among Chinese and non-Chinese social and political scientists, educators, media professionals, civil society practitioners, government officials, and lawyers about goals and means of western China engagement.

This module will provide a socially relevant policy curriculum and help you develop necessary skills for a democratic practice of public policy inquiry.

 
Europe and the Developing World

This module analyses the decision-making process and current policy issues in both economic (first pillar) and political and security (CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policies, and ESDP: European Security and Defence Policies) policies within the European Union.

We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary EU policies towards Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Themes include: 

  • theorising EU security policies
  • instruments of security policies
  • issues such as post-colonialism
  • intervention
  • ethics of intervention
  • just war theory
  • asylum policies
  • migration policies
  • the fight against terrorism and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
 
European Union Politics

This course analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect politics at both the national and European levels.

We look at how the EU affects the role of political institutions in the traditional chain of representation in the member states and the wider challenges it poses to democracy. The main themes include: 

  • the current problems of political representation
  • the impact of the EU on the traditional role of parties as representatives of civil society interests
  • the preferences of public opinion with respect to the EU
  • the impact of the EU in national and European elections, the sources and expression of Euroscepticism
  • the democratic deficit in the EU
  • referendums and EU democracy
  • the future of the European Union
 
Gender and Development

This module examines major themes, debates and issues in the field of gender and development. We will focus on the relationship between ideas and concerns of gender (in)equality and processes, policies, and practices of economic, social and political development.

The module will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. It will also explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.

 
Government and Politics of China

This module deals with some key concepts, processes and institutions in contemporary Chinese politics, including:

  • the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and succession
  • legitimacy and stability in Chinese politics
  • central and local elections
  • political opening and experiments
  • the development of civil society in the reform era
  • social and political life in cities
  • regulation and governing the market
  • the Party in transition
 
Grand Strategy

This module examines how nations have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. It analyses a variety of national strategies in order to understand how geography, history, culture, and finance influence decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace.

The module draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of great power politics.

 
International Political Economy

The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.

The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.

The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (eg Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.

 
Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice

The module introduces and explores the concept of distributive justice on an international and intergenerational basis. Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.

This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module.

The programme for dealing with these themes includes: international theories of justice, with particular reference to faminie relief and humanitarian intervention; intergenerational justice and personal identity, 'biocentric' theories of justice; animal rights; and, direct political action.

 
Political Utopianism

Utopianism lies at the heart of politics. Utopias and dystopias provide the visions, aspirations and directions of future politics. They also offer criticisms of the political present and predictions for the future. They anticipate the good life and explore fears for a nightmare existence.

This module seeks to explore the concept of utopia and we will look at utopian and dystopian theory, fiction, film and social experiments.

 
The Politics of South Asia*

This module introduces you to the politics of modern South Asia, focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The region is growing in international importance both strategically, economically and politically. The module evaluates alternative explanations for the different democratic trajectories of these states, despite their shared colonial past, and the interaction between 'tradition' and 'modernity' in developing political institutions. 

In so doing it examines the different strategies of nation building adopted by the elites of these very diverse states, and how and why the considerable ethnic and religious diversity of the region has impacted on the 'quality' of democracy. It concludes with an examination of the international politics of South Asia, and considers future scenarios for the region.

 
The Road to Guantanamo: The Treatment and Experience of Prisoners, Civilian Internees and Detainees since 1860

This module explores the way in which state authorities have treated prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees from circa 1860 - the dawn of the modern era of international humanitarian law - to the present day. It examines developments in state practice and international law relating to the detention of 'enemy' individuals, and explores different national, ideological and cultural approaches to the issue of captivity.

The module is explicitly historical in character and methodology but will draw on international and political theory where appropriate to explain state and individual behaviour.

 
Special Project A

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

 
Special Project B

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

 
War, Peace and Terror

This module explores the blurring boundaries between war and peace, and the implications for understanding security.

The first section assesses the changing nature of warfare, including theories of asymmetric warfare and terrorism; the second section examines the 'dark arts' of international relations, from assassination to psychological warfare, operating in the grey area between war and peace.

With large scale conventional warfare increasingly unlikely, the third section considers 'new' security issues in peacetime such as poverty and disease.

 
When Does Russia Expand and Why?

Russia's annexation of the Crimea will strike many Westerners as merely the latest chapter in a long history of Russian imperialism. Does Russia always expand when it has the opportunity? Or is its expansion, when it occurs, explained by contingent factors?

This module will examine Russia's expansion and contraction from the 17th century to the present, and the causes underlying it.

 

* This module is particularly recommended.


Then you can choose either:

Spring semester, Ningbo Campus

60 credits to be taken, with appropriate modules including:

China in International Relations

This course explores China's foreign relations since the establishment of the PRC in 1949 thorough examination of key episodes in China's relations with global and regional powers. Lectures will address the role of ideology (or ideologies) in China's diplomacy, and the meaning of the "national interest" for policy makers in Beijing, and how these concepts help (or do not help) us to understand China's foreign policy behavior throughout the Cold War, and the problems and prospects of "China's rise".

 
Global Development Politics

This specialisation module will look at theories and experiences of economic development. It will address the sociological, political and ethical questions related to modernisation and compare different theoretical approaches to development. It will furthermore consider the practical problems arising from development management and organisation and take the role of international organisations, NGOs and state actors under close scrutiny.

 

OR

Spring semester, Malaysia Campus

60 credits to be taken, with appropriate modules including:

Human Security

The module will cover the following:

  • What is human security in the global system?
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Disease (HIV/AIDS and others)
  • Environment: Global warming, floods, droughts, famine, deforestation
  • Population movement: refugees, camps and asylum seekers
  • Organised crime: Human trafficking: slavery and sex trade
  • Human trafficking: Organ sales
  • Organised crime: Drugs, counterfeiting and pornography
  • Ideology and Terrorism
  • Security Measures: UN conventions eg: Human Rights; CEDAW; Rights of the Child; Convention on Trafficking
  • Security Measures: National legislation such as public health regulation, immigration regulation, anti-terrorism measures and environmental controls
 
The International Relations of South East Asia

The highly diverse states of Southeast Asia (SEA) are attempting to manage their relations with the increasingly rivalrous great powers that surround them while simultaneously undertaking an ambitious community-building project. A sense of vulnerability pushes them together, but residual problems - many dating from the colonial and Cold War eras - just as vigorously threaten to pull them apart.

States are joined on the regional stage by multi-national companies, actively engaged publics, and insurgent groups fighting in protracted subnational conflicts. The social, political, cultural, and economic waves that emanate from both inside and outside the region produce both change and resistance to change.

By focusing on the actors, structures, and processes that animate Southeast Asia, this module will enable you to go behind the often sensational media headlines you read in regional coverage, and analyse the region in a more rigorous and coherent way.

 

Watch our lecturers talking about some of the modules on offer in our virtual module fair.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

 
 

Funding

Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.

 
 

Careers

The MA Asian and International Studies attracts those who are seeking an academic programme of study at an advanced level, and those who wish to pursue a professional career in Asia. It does not presume any pre-knowledge of the region.

The course is designed to have broad appeal to students not only from the UK, but also Europe, North America and Asia. However, the modules are also designed to provide those who have previous experience of living or working within the region to expand and build on their existing knowledge.

The tri-campus element will make you particularly attractive to employers which are seeking graduates with cultural and political experience of engagement in the region.

The professional relevance of the course will develop your skills for a career in a range of fields, such as:

  • academia
  • the civil service
  • international cultural exchange
  • international organisations
  • journalism
  • ministerial advising
  • non-governmental organisations
  • policy research

It is suitable for those in mid-career who wish to change direction, move into policy areas, or who wish to take time out to make sense of their day-to-day policy activities.

Placements

We offer a range of local, national and international placement opportunities, which may be paid or voluntary, part-time alongside your studies or longer placements during University vacations.

Progression

If you wish to continue your studies after completing this course, we offer a range of research opportunities with PhD supervision in most subject areas.

Employability and average starting salary

90% of postgraduates from the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £22,429 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £29,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

 
 
 
Get in touch
+44 (0)115 951 5559 
Make an enquiry

Contact

School of Politics and International Relations
Law and Social Sciences Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham
NG7 2RD

Social Science videos

Social Science videos

 

 

 

Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
f: +44 (0) 115 951 5812
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry