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Political Violence B: Political Violence and Conflict in Comparative Context

Module Code: PO3121

Module Name: Political Violence B: Political Violence and Conflict in Comparative Context 2018-19

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Hilary
  • Contact Hours: 2 lectures per week; 1 tutorial per fortnight
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr Liam Kneafsey
  • Module Prerequisite: PO3120

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Identify the key determinants of civil conflict in a range of empirical settings, including the countries of the Mano river basin, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Syria and Sri Lanka;
  • Explain how the design of political institutions can undermine political stability and, conversely, encourage cooperation between competing social groups in various periods and settings
  • Identify the processes by which societies become polarised in different historical and cultural contexts
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of theoretical approaches to explaining the practice of political violence as applied to a variety of case studies

Module Learning Aims

This module aims to build students’ understanding of the causal mechanics underlying conflicts across a variety of settings and periods, the character of the violence in these conflicts and the prospects for resolution.


Module Content

Drawing on major theoretical approaches to the explanation of violence, we apply these theoretical frameworks to an empirical examination of political violence in a range of periods and settings, including Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syria, Ireland, Sierra Leone, and others. We explore how and to what extent the major approaches in the scholarship explain the reality of conflict in different regional, cultural and historical contexts.

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Recommended Reading List

Prunier, Gérard. 1998. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide. London: Hurst.

Tessler, Mark. 2009. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Indiana University Press.

Price, Robert. 1991..The Apartheid State in Crisis: Political Transformation in South Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

O’Leary, Brendan and John McGarry .1996. The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern Ireland.


Assessment Details

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

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