Histories of International Conflict - PO925

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.







This module examines the origins and causes of particular conflicts, illustrating empirical material (historical, political/organisational, economic) as well as narratives of the parties, through the lens of conflict theory. Different types of conflicts are examined, ranging from modern interstate war to ethnic intrastate conflict, in order to illuminate the various dynamics of conflict initiation, intensity, duration, and the potential for resolution of different types of conflicts. Although the main emphasis is on analyzing international conflicts in the 20th century, comparative reference will be made to earlier conflicts as well as those that have occurred at the beginning of the 21st century. Overall, the political, economic, and ideological background to, influence on, and consequences of, selected conflicts are stressed. Moreover, though the military aspects of certain conflicts are discussed in terms of impact and outcome, this course does not concentrate on battles and warfare per se. Highlighted will be the World Wars and conflicts related to the Cold War. Other problems of interest will be the success and failure of collective security, revolutionary and civil wars, the role of nationalism, regional disputes, recent attempts at "humanitarian" intervention in the post-Cold War period, and the international implications of the “War on Terrorism” since September 11, 2001.


This module appears in:


Spring Term

Method of assessment

Students will have to write a major essay of 4500-5000 words on an interstate conflict or conflict with an international dimension that has occurred since 1900 (85%). The topic proposal, outline, and preliminary bibliography will also count towards the final mark (15%).

Indicative reading

Students will be presented with a full syllabus, including reading lists, at the start of the module. Key texts will be made available via the Intranet of the UKB. Further reading may be recommended in the course of the lecture programme.

Books recommended are:
Antony Best, et al., International History of the Twentieth Century (2004; 2nd ed. June 2008)
Ian Beckett, The Great War 2nd ed. (2007)
Daniel S. Geller and J. David Singer. Nations at War: A Scientific Study of International Conflict (1998)
John Keegan, A History of Warfare (1993)
James Turner Johnson, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War: A Moral and Historical Inquiry (1984)
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of he Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (1987)
Evan Luard, Conflict and Peace in the Modern International System: A Study of the Principles of International Order. 2nd edition (1988)
Silvio Pons and Federico Romero, eds., Reinterpreting the End of the Cold War: Issues, Interpretations, Periodizations (2005)
Robert I. Rotberg and Theodore K. Rabb, eds., The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars (1989)
Paul W. Schroeder, Systems, Stability, and Statecraft: Essays on the International History of Modern Europe. David Wetzel, Robert Jervis, and Jack S. Levy, eds. (2004)

Students will be expected to purchase some of the required reading material.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to
• Provide a firm historical grounding for understanding interstate conflicts and intrastate conflicts with an international dimension since 1648;
• Illustrate through the use of cases and examples the complex causes and dynamics of different types of international conflict;
• Critically identify key debates in the discipline of political studies relating to the study of conflict;
• Outline and understand the main concepts in the study of conflict historically;
• Highlight those areas where comparisons between conflicts will be most fruitful;
• Appreciate what political scientists (especially those in International Relations and International Conflict Analysis) and historians of international relations and conflict can learn from each another by writing an essay, which takes into account how practitioners in each discipline have approached the problem of the causes of international conflicts.

These specific learning outcomes contribute to achieving the learning outcomes of our post-graduate programmes by demonstrating knowledge of the following:
• demonstrate specialised knowledge of, and critical insight into, the key historical and theoretical issues in their programme area, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources;
• apply theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of intrastate and interstate conflict;
• use a variety of research methods and evaluate critically their application in the scholarly literature;
• conduct research in politics and international relations demonstrating awareness of epistemological, methodological and ethical principles.

The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this module
• will be able to work with theoretical knowledge at the forefront of their discipline;
• will engage critically with conflict phenomena, including the vocabulary, concepts, theories and methods of conflict studies;
• will have a comprehensive understanding of methods and methodologies in their discipline;
• will develop reasoned arguments, supported by relevant information, and exercise critical thinking;
• will have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, advanced scholarship and methodologies and argue alternative approaches;
• will describe, evaluate, and apply different approaches involved in collecting, analysing, and presenting social scientific and historical information;
• will be able to engage in academic and professional communication orally and in writing;
• will have independent learning ability required for continuing professional study;
• collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals.

By helping students to progress towards these generic learning outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the general aims of our postgraduate programmes, which aim to:
• provide students with an advanced training in their relevant programmes of study;
• develop the students' transferable skills emphasizing research skills, analytical and conceptual skills, independent work and self-organisation;
• develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement;
• work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organization and time-management.

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