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You are here Postgraduate > MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict > Course Structure and Handbook

Conflict Zones: Case studies

Module Code: SO7045

  • ECTS Credit : 10
  • Mandatory/ Optional : Optional
  • Module Coordinator : David Landy
  • Module Length: 8 weeks (Michaelmas Term)

Module Description:

The conflict in historic Palestine from which the State of Israel has emerged is frequently presented in international discourse as intractable, with deep historic roots linked to two of the major religions – Islam and Judaism. It is upon this representation of Palestine and Israel that international opinion and subsequent interventions are frequently based. While compelling, this depiction belies the reality of the situation.
The aim of this module is to explore the conflict in Palestine and Israel, tracing its emergence from its historical roots to the present day, critically examining key events within a broad international context while scrutinising representation of the conflict in international discourse. The relevance of Palestine and Israel to the international community will be explored and critiqued: specifically international interventions including, international diplomacy, human rights, international law, military and development aid and civil society activism.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Have an awareness of key literature relating to the conflict and its contradictory interpretations
  • Be able to discuss the historical and geo-political sources of the conflict
  • Have a knowledge of the key perspectives and divergent views involved
  • Relate the conflict to wider theoretical frameworks within Race and Conflict Studies
  • Understand the relevance of both colonialism and settler colonialism to Palestine and Israel
  • Be able to critically analyse the role of globalization and international interventions in the conflict, and relate this to other conflict situations
  • Critique the conflict in terms of power and resistance.

Delivery and syllabus:

The module is delivered through 11 sessions, each of which comprises a lecture and tutorial. An annotated reading list is provided for each class. For the tutorials, participants are expected to read the asterisked readings plus at least one other reading on the list. After week 2, each tutorial will involve a short presentation by a group of students in answer to the tutorial question of that week. The main topics covered in this module are:


The main topics covered in this module are:

  • 1. Land and History:

    • Historic Palestine: Geography and demography
    • Palestine, the Ottomans and the British (Charles Glass)

    2. Zionism:

    • European Anti-Semitism and the rise of political Zionism
    • The Balfour Declaration and the making of a homeland for the Jewish People in historic Palestine
    • 21st century Zionism

    3.  Colonisation and Conflict:

    • The making and breaking of empires: British Mandate Palestine, Balfour and the Sykes-Picot Agreement
    • The Holocaust and Jewish emigration to Palestine
    • Colonising Palestine In The Age Of Decolonisation

    5. Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native:

    • Al Nakba
    • The ethnic cleansing of Palestine
    • The war of narratives and colonial discourse

    6. International Interventions:

    • Peace and Diplomacy
    • The Oslo Accords
    • International aid and foreign policy
    • Military aid to Israel
    • International law and human rights

    7. International Civil Society:

    • Solidarity activism and diaspora Jewish involvement
    • The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement
    • Lawfare

    8. Israel - Actions and Policies:

    • Israel, Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza

    Indicative Resources

Recommended Texts

There are no textbooks for the course but readings will be set each week. In addition the following resources will be useful in understanding the situation:
Milton-Edwards, B.(2009) The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A People’s War. London:
Said, E. (1979) The Question of Palestine. New York: Times Books
Lentin, R (ed.) 2008. Thinking Palestine. London: Zed
Achcar, G. (2010) The Arabs and the Holocaust: War of the Narratives. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Cronin, D. (2017) Balfour’s Shadow: British Support for Zionism and Israel (1917-2017) London: Pluto Press
Zureik, E. (2016) Israel’s Colonial Project in Palestine. London: Routledge
In addition to academic reading, students are encouraged to explore film, art, poetry and prose on the issue. Works of fiction include Men in the Sun by  Ghassan Kanafani and  Khirbet Khizeh by S Yizhar. Poetry by Mahmoud Darwish and Mourid Barghouti. Art by Naji Al-Ali, Banksy and Joe Sacco and films by Palestinian and Israeli directors including When I Saw You by Anne Marie Jacir, 5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat & Guy Davidii, On the Side of the Road by Lia Tarachansky and The Lab by Yotam Feldman.