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Unit of study_

ASNS2665: Understanding Southeast Asia

Semester 1, 2020 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This Unit of Study introduces Southeast Asia. It emphasises the importance of geographical, political, economic, social and cultural context to our understanding of complex real-world problems. Having gained insight into these aspects of contemporary Southeast Asia, students learn to apply an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of challenges faced by the region such as economic and social inequality, environmental management, food security and urbanisation.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ASNS2665
Academic unit
Credit points 6
12 Junior credit points
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Adrian Vickers,
Tutor(s) Siobhan Campbell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay
research essay
30% - 2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Briefing paper
report-form paper
25% Week 07 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Annotated Bibliography
Detailed commentary on sources
20% Week 10 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2
Assignment Weekly quiz and reflection
On-line quiz and reflective commentary
25% Weekly 2000 words total
Outcomes assessed: LO1

Assessment summary

  • Weekly quiz and Reflection: These quizzes test for knowledge and understanding of the materials covered in the weekly module, including the video lecture, radio interviews and readings. Please note there is a 2 hour time limit on the quiz. Reflections should be around 200 words in length.
  • Briefing paper: Students will work on and submit a briefing paper designed for use by a senior Australian bureaucrat who will be meeting with senior foreign government officials to discuss the progress of one of a number of specified development assistance projects in a Southeast Asian country.
  • Annotated bibliography: Students will be required to submit for marking an annotated bibliography on three readings related to one of the essay questions.
  • Essay: Students will submit an academic essay that focuses on one of the case study topics as it relates to a Southeast Asian country or countries.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 02 Geography Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 03 Culture and religion Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 04 History Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 05 Political science Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 06 Political economy Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 07 Guided country study Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 08 Urbanisation Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 09 Food security Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 10 Labour migration Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 11 Disability policy Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 12 Environmental management Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 13 Review week Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: This is a fully on-line unit, so there are no face-to-face classes, but the coordinator and tutor will arrange consultation sessions for those who need them.
  • Lecture recording: Lecture material is available on-line.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Detailed Schedule of Readings

Week 1: Introduction

Acharya, Amitav. 2012. “Imagining Southeast Asia.” In The Making of Southeast Asia: International Relations of a Region, 51–­104. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Week 2: Geography

van Schendel, Willem. 2002. “Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast Asia.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space no. 20 (6):647–­668.

Week 3: Culture and Religion

Sunardi, C. (2009). Pushing at the boundaries of the body: Cultural politics and cross-gender dance in East Java, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, 165(4): 459-492. 

Week 4: History

Winichakul, Thongchai. 2003. "Writing at the Interstices: Southeast Asian Historians and Postnational Histories in Southeast Asia." In New terrains in Southeast Asian history, edited by Abu Talib Ahmad and Liok Ee Tan, pp. 3­29. Athens: Ohio University Press. 3

Week 5: Political Science

Arugay, A., Sinpeng, A.(2018. Varieties of Authoritarianism and the Limits of Democratization in Southeast Asia. In Alice D. Ba, Mark Beeson (Eds.), Contemporary Southeast Asia: The Politics of Change, Contestation, and Adaptation, (pp. 91-110). London: Palgrave.

Week 6: Political Economy

Juanita Elias and Lena Rethel. 2016. “Introduction.” The Everyday Political Economy of Southeast Asia. Edited by Juanita Elias and Lena Rethel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.268–

Week 8: Urbanism

Ballegooijen, Jan Van, and Roberto Rocco. 2013. “The Ideologies of Informality: Informal Urbanisation in the Architectural and Planning Discourses.” Third World Quarterly no. 34 (10):1794­–1810.

Goh, Daniel P. S., and Tim Bunnell. 2013. “Recentering Southeast Asian Cities.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research no. 37 (3):825­–833.

Week 9: Food Security

Neilson, J. and Wright, J. 2017. “The state and the food security discourses of Indonesia: feeding the Bangsa”, Geographical Research 55(3): 131-143.

Davidson, J. 2018. “Then and Now: Campaigns to Achieve Rice Self-Sufficiency in Indonesia”. Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 174(2/3): 188-215. 

Week 10: Labour Migration

Djafar, Fariastuti, and Mohd Khairul Hisyam Hassan. 2013. “Does Trade with Labour Sending Countries Reduce Demand for Migrant Workers: A Lesson from Malaysia.” Asian Economic and Financial Review no. 3 (10):1325–­1336.

Ford, Michele. 2012. “Contested Borders, Contested Boundaries: The Politics of Labour Migration in Southeast Asia.” In Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics, edited by Richard Robison, 305–­314. London: Routledge.

Week 11: Disability

Boellstorff, Tom. 2019. “Om Toleran Om: Four Indonesian Reflections on Digital Heterosexism.” Media, Culture & Society, (November). doi:10.1177/0163443719884066.

Dede Oetomo/Inside Indonesia


Week 12: Environmental Management

McCarthy, J. F., & Cramb, R. A. 2009. “Policy narratives, landholder engagement, and oil palm expansion on the Malaysian and Indonesian frontiers”. Geographical Journal, 175(2), 112-123.

Neilson, J. 2017.”Indonesia: a political-economic history of environment and resources.” Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia, ed. P. Hirsch, pp. 374-389. Routledge.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate familiarity with key aspects of the Southeast Asian region, including its cultures, history and geography, and its political and economic systems
  • LO2. demonstrate the ability to drawn on insights provided by a range of disciplines when analysing complex real-world problems in a Southeast Asian context
  • LO3. present evidenced-based arguments in academic and policy genres.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This unit has been revised on the basis of student feedback and peer evaluation, in particular lectures and readings have been up-dated.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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