Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


This module aims to investigate the different roles and experiences of human beings at and in war. Following an introduction to issues regarding agency (How do people act in the social world? How much freedom do they have? What impact can their actions have?), the course will examine the roles of combatants (both state and non-state), civilians (men, women and children), and third parties (peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, journalists, and academics). The module will draw on academic literature, but also written, oral and video testimony and artwork to examine these categories first as a social group (examining questions such as age brackets, income brackets, education, life expectancy), then in terms of their political functions and roles, and finally in an attempt to access some degree of experiential knowledge of war and peace. Due to the sensitive nature of the material examined, the module will not be using lecture capture.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

150 hours including 30 hours of lectures and seminars/Q&A session with external speaker; 120 hours independent study.

Method of assessment

100% coursework (2 essays of approximately 2,500 words, each worth 50%).

Indicative reading

Dallaire, Romeo. (2005). Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. London: Carroll & Graf.
Levi, Primo. (1996) If This is a Man; The Truce. London: Abacus.
Nordstrom, Carolyn. (1997) A Different Kind of War Story. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Nordstrom, C. and A. Robben (eds). (1995) Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
- understand the key approaches to agency in social and political theory.
- identify the various actors involved in warfare and peacemaking.
- understand the social, political and experiential aspects of the various types of actors involved in war.
- critically engage with conflict studies and International Relations, and challenge the underlying assumptions of the field.
- identify cognate disciplines studying actors in war including sociology, anthropology and ethnography of war.
- analyze testimonies of war (written, oral, video, photographic).
- engage with experiential knowledge and link it to theoretical approaches to conflict.
- formulate questions in face to face contact with interviewees.
- understand the ethical issues linked to interviews with actors involved in war.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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