Conflict Analysis and Northern Ireland: History, Politics & Culture - POLI6640

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This course will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the recent political history of Northern Ireland. The course will be accessible to all students, whether they are new to the topic or not. The main objective of the course is to provide students with a greater understanding of one of the most complex regions within the United Kingdom. Students who take the course will learn about the central issues that underpinned community conflict, why sectarian conflict broke out in the region in the late 1960s, why it continued for so long, and what political dynamics led to the 'peace process' of the 1990s. In addition to looking at the conventional historical and political development of Northern Ireland, the course will also focus on wider aspects of the society such as representations in Irish poetry, music and sport, and the way in which these have mirrored political and cultural relationships within the region.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


An optional module for all politics and international relations students. Available as an elective module to the wider university.

Method of assessment

Essay, 3000 words, 50%
Exam, 2 hours, 50%

Reassessment methods: Reassessment instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Cochrane, F. Northern Ireland: The Reluctant Peace, Yale University Press, 2013.
(This will be the core textbook of the course and several of the sessions will be based closely on this new material.)

Arthur, P. (1984) Government and politics of Northern Ireland. – (2nd Ed.) Longman.

Cox, M. Guelke, A & Stephen, F. (Eds.) (2005) A Farewell to Arms? Manchester University Press.

Darby, J. & Mac Ginty, R. (eds.) (2000) The Management of Peace Processes. Macmillan.

English, R. (2003) Armed Struggle Macmillan.

O'Leary, B & McGarry, J. (1996) The politics of Antagonism : understanding Northern Ireland – (2nd Ed.) London, Athlone Press.

Tonge, J. Northern Ireland: Conflict and Change. London, Prentice Hall. 1997.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1: demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the historical development and recent political history of Northern Ireland;

2: understand the connections between events in Northern Ireland from 1921-2013 and wider theoretical principles behind conflict management and conflict transformation.

3: evaluate the central issues that underpinned community conflict in Northern Ireland and how British policy evolved in the region;

4: apply the empirical detail of the Northern Ireland case to wider conceptual debates relating to the roles of direct and indirect actors in conflict, the role of spoilers in emerging peace processes and the advantages and limits of consociational democracy in political settlements;

5: understand the linkages between politics, history and culture within a politically divided society;

6: appreciate and understand the complex patterns of sectarianism in Northern Ireland and how relationships between nationalists and unionists have been affected by the peace process over the last 20 years.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 critically examine, through written course work and oral participation, complex and contested ideas and beliefs and synthesise conflicting narratives and arguments.

2 demonstrate an ability to apply theoretical ideas to empirical cases.

3 be reflective and self-critical in their work

4 communicate their ideas effectively and fluently in written coursework and through verbal presentations

5 effectively utilise the various resources required on the module including print and AV sources as well as understanding how to reference secondary sources and use other forms of data such as NGO reports, newspapers and more polemical materials.

6 engage in academic and professional communication with others

7 have the independent learning ability required for further study or professional work


  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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