POL41910 Political Violence

Academic Year 2021/2022

Why do individuals pick up arms against their states? What explains the rise of violent groups, such as ISIS? Why do states go to war against each other? In this module, we will explore political violence. First, we will introduce different types of political violence, including terrorism, civil war, inter-state war, or genocide. We will also discuss trends of political violence, and the old versus new wars debate. Second, we will turn to key theories that try to explain why political violence occurs, discussing issues as varied as the role of poverty and religion, ethnicity and social bonds, rational choice or mental illness. By the end of the module, you will have a broad overview of theories explaining the occurrence of political violence. Studying research through which major theories on political violence have been developed, you will have also deepened your understanding of the scientific method. Finally, you will be asked to develop and present a short research paper, which you could later develop into a master’s thesis or conference paper.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should: - have systematic knowledge of debates on political violence, and understand their underlying theories- have knowledge of violent groups around the world, such as ISIS, FARC, or the RAF- critically discuss key aspects of political violence, taking into account opposing arguments- be able to critically evaluate theories on political violence, and the key concepts they involve- apply these theories and concepts to occurrences of political violence around the world- be able to design and present a small research project, which could be developed into a thesis project

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
active/task-based learning; peer and group work; lectures; critical writing; reflective learning; student presentations

In the fall of 2020, all module components will be moved online due to the Covid crisis. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Final paper based on coursework Unspecified n/a Graded Yes


Continuous Assessment: essay writing Unspecified n/a Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

We will discuss writing assignments in class (before and after the deadlines).