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Insurgency and Civil Wars: Causes and Dynamics - POL00071H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kaisa Hinkkainen Elliott
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Civil wars are one of the greatest threats to international security, and increasing scholarly attention has been devoted to understanding not only why such conflicts start, but also what happens during civil wars.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

Civil wars are one of the greatest threats to international security, and increasing scholarly attention has been devoted in understanding not only why such conflicts start, but also what happens during civil wars. In addition to an overview of trends and causes of civil wars, this module focuses on unpacking the ‘black box’ of civil wars, by examining the different strategies used in civil wars- from terrorism to battles, different actors such as rebels, militias and child soldiers as well as civilian victimization and ending civil wars. The students will learn both theoretical and empirical approaches in understanding insurgencies and civil wars across the world, and will be able to apply this knowledge to ‘real world’ cases.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of key trends and definitions of civil wars.
  2. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of diverse actors and tactics involved in civil wars. 
  3. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of various causes of civil wars.
  4. Apply independently, explanations of the causes of civil wars to cases of international insurgencies and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  5. To use critical reasoning and empirical material to analyse the role of civilians and combatants in contemporary civil wars.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Cederman, L.E., Gleditsch, K.S. and Buhaug, H., 2013. Inequality, grievances, and civil war. Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, D.K., 2016. Rape during civil war. Cornell University Press.

Collier, P. and Hoeffler, A., 2004. Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxford economic papers56(4), pp.563-595.

Collier, P., 2000. Rebellion as a quasi-criminal activity. Journal of Conflict resolution44(6), pp.839-853.

Fearon, J.D., 1995. Rationalist explanations for war. International organization49(3), pp.379-414.

Fearon, J.D. and Laitin, D.D., 2003. Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war. American political science review97(1), pp.75-90.

Humphreys, M. and Weinstein, J.M., 2006. Handling and manhandling civilians in civil war. American Political Science Review100(3), pp.429-447.

Kalyvas, S.N., 2006. The logic of violence in civil war. Cambridge University Press.

Mason, T.D. and Mitchell, S.M. eds., 2016. What do we know about civil wars?. Rowman & Littlefield.

Newman, E. and DeRouen Jr, K. eds., 2014. Routledge handbook of civil wars. Routledge.

Pinker, S., 1999. The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined.

Ross, M.L., 2004. What do we know about natural resources and civil war?. Journal of peace research41(3), pp.337-356.

Sambanis, N., 2004. What is civil war? Conceptual and empirical complexities of an operational definition. Journal of conflict resolution48(6), pp.814-858.

Valentino, B., Huth, P. and Balch-Lindsay, D., 2004. “Draining the sea”: mass killing and guerrilla warfare. International Organization58(2), pp.375-407.

Walter, B.F., 2009. Bargaining failures and civil war. Annual Review of Political Science12, pp.243-261.

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

Wood, E.J. and Jean, W.E., 2003. Insurgent collective action and civil war in El Salvador. Cambridge University Press.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students