17.433 | Spring 2011 | Undergraduate

International Relations of East Asia


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Both undergraduate and graduate students can take this course. There are no prerequisites for undergraduates. Graduate students who wish to enroll in this course must have the permission of the instructor.

Course Overview

The aim of this course is to introduce and analyze the international relations of East Asia. With four great powers, three nuclear weapons states and two of the world’s largest economies, East Asia is one of the most dynamic and consequential regions in world politics. During the Cold War, East Asia witnessed intense competition and conflict between the superpowers and among the states in the region. In the post-Cold War era, the region has been an engine of the global economy while undergoing a major shift in the balance power whose trajectory and outcome remain uncertain. This course will examine the sources of conflict and cooperation in both periods, assessing competing explanations for key events in East Asia’s international relations. Readings will be drawn from international relations theory, political science and history.


Herring, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975 with Poster. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2001. ISBN: 9780072536188.

Undergraduate Requirements

There will be one in-class short-answer exam. The exam will draw on material from both the readings and lectures. Students will also be required to write two analytical take-home essays on questions that will be assigned during the course. The first essay will be approximately 1,500 words in length, while the second essay will be approximately 3,000 words. Attendance is mandatory, including recitations.


Three quizzes 15
Essay I 15
In-class exam 30
Essay II 30
Participation 10

(including unannounced map quiz)

Graduate Requirements

Students may enroll in the graduate version of the course only with the instructor’s permission. Graduate students are expected to read an additional 150–200 pages per week listed as “recommended” in the readings section. These readings will assist students in mapping the academic literature on East Asia’s international relations in preparation for further study or research projects.

Graduates must write two essays and two book précis. (A précis is a concise book summary of approximately 600 words to be selected from a list.) These 3,000–6,000 word essays will be synthetic, integrating the empirical data and the theories introduced in the course, and require students to think broadly about the key variables shaping the international relations of the region.


Essay I 30
Essay II 30
Précis I 15
Précis II 15
Participation 10

(including unannounced map quiz)

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2011