South Asia: Regional Dynamics and External Powers

Photo of the Gateway of India as seen through a lens
Picture: Pexels/ Darshak Pandya


Autumn 2024

Level: Advanced

Language: English

Organizer: Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku; Asia Center of the University of Tartu, Estonia

Credits: 3 ECTS

Times: Autumn 2024

Application period:

Contact person: University lecturer Outi Luova, outi.luova[at]


Throughout this course, participants will develop a comprehensive understanding of the regional dynamics and external influences shaping South Asia. They will critically analyze various approaches to South Asian studies, examining socioeconomic relations and cultural aspects between countries in the region.
Furthermore, students will explore the roles and impacts of major external powers in India and Pakistan, including China, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The course will delve into the complexities of the war in Ukraine, analyzing perceptions in South Asian countries through a postcolonial lens and examining the China-India-Russia power triangle’s implications on energy, security, and military presence.
The final section on environment and climate will focus on selected South Asian countries, addressing critical issues such as food security, freshwater resources, CO2 emissions, energy, and technology transfer. Overall, participants will gain a nuanced understanding of regional dynamics, external influences, and the environmental challenges that characterize South Asia.


The course will start with an introductory module covering diverse aspects of South Asian regional dynamics, including approaches to understanding the region, socioeconomic ties, and the influence of religion and culture. This section will incorporate a visual timeline and a slideshow featuring key historical figures.

The subsequent section will analyze the roles of major external powers in India and Pakistan, with a detailed examination of China, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. Following this, the course will explore the South Asian perspective on the war in Ukraine, specifically focusing on the China-India-Russia power triangle and its implications.

The final module will concentrate on environmental and climate issues in selected South Asian countries, addressing challenges, opportunities, and best practices. Topics such as food security, freshwater resources, CO2 emissions, energy, and technology transfer will be explored in the context of cooperation and competition in geopolitics. Overall, the course contents aim to provide a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of South Asian regional dynamics and external influences.

I. Introduction to Regional Dynamics
II. External Powers/Main Foreign Players in India and Pakistan
III. The War in Ukraine
IV. Environment and Climate

Taken as:

One quiz in each module, and a learning diaries (4 x ca 1000 words).  The content is divided into modules that are taken according to the given sequence and schedule.

The course materials include recorded online lectures, Canva-slides, obligatory and elective reading materials, and Internet materials.
The grade is based on the learning diary. It is graded on the scale “Approved with honors / pass / fail”. If your grade hovers between “pass” and “approved with honors”, doing the course work in schedule will help to give the higher grade of the two possibilities.


Preconditions for participation: Basic knowledge about  South Asia. For example the Asia Network course “Johdatus Etelä-Aasiaan”.

 Application process:

Students who hold a valid study right at University Network’s member university can take this course for free. This includes both degree students and exchange students.

Other students can apply to the course as external self-paying students of the University of Turku.

Maximum intake: 40 students per course.

Go to application instructions by clicking here.

Once your application has been processed, you will receive a  message about the decision. This will come a few weeks after the application period has ended. If you are accepted to the course, you will receive a welcoming email on the first day of the course, and gain access to the course site in the Moodle. The welcome email comes to the address you have given in the application form. It may go to the spam or offers folder of your email (at least Gmail tends to do it), so check those folders too.

Picture: Pexels/ Darshak Pandya