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Political Violence A: Theories of Political Violence and Conflict

Module Code: PO3120

Module Name: Political Violence A: Theories of Political Violence and Conflict 2018-19

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week; 1 tutorial per fortnight
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr Liam Kneafsey
  • Module Co-Requisite: PO3121

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, student should be able to:

  • Understand how, and under what conditions, the social construction of identity can contribute to civil conflict;
  • Appreciate how other structural factors, such as poverty, lead to civil conflict;
  • Evaluate how different research methodologies generate different types of insight into the causes of civil conflict
  • Explain variation in the organisation, purpose, and production of violence by insurgencies and states
  • Identify the psychological processes that underlie participation in violence.
  • Assess the necessary factors that affect the likelihood of conflict resolution in a divided society

Module Learning Aims

This module aims to build students’ understanding of the causes, nature, organisation, justification, and resolution of violent conflict.


Module Content

This module examines how, and to what end, violence is practiced. We address directly some of the biggest and oldest questions in the study of comparative politics: why are some societies prone to civil conflict, while others are not? When do political actors resort to violence over a peaceful solution to conflict? Why are some societies prone to political violence, while others are not? Why do individuals participate in collective violence? How, if at all, do the perpetrators of political violence justify their actions? And how, and under what conditions, does violence end?

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Recommended Reading List

Tilly, Charles. 2003. The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weinstein, Jeremy. M. 2006. Inside rebellion: The politics of insurgent violence. Cambridge University Press.

Kalyvas, Stathis. 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chenoweth, Erica, and Maria J. Stephan. 2011 Why civil resistance works: The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict. Columbia University Press.


Assessment Details

This one-term module is assessed by two essays – the first worth 40% and the second worth 60%.

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