Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

New MA module on Armed Conflict and Civil War For 2016-17

08 February 2016 | Georgia Wood

In the 2016-17 academic year, a new MA module will be introduced which explores the nature, causes and impact of civil war and intrastate armed conflict in the 21st century.

After some years of apparent downward trends in armed conflict, large-scale violence has again reached alarming levels in cases such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. This module will focus upon the political, social and institutional factors that are relevant to this violence, and broader patterns of armed conflict – including possible future trends in civil wars. The module will also consider the methodologies of understanding intrastate violence, and debates about so-called ‘state failure’ and ‘new wars’, and the changing nature of armed conflict.

These debates will be illustrated throughout the module with reference to a wide range of contemporary and recent cases, including Liberia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rise of the ‘Islamic State’.  

The module will support learning around questions such as: How are civil wars and intrastate armed conflict defined, understood and measured? How are factors such as ethnicity, weak state capacity, poverty and social inequalities, political exclusion, natural resources, environmental change, globalization, and food price rises relevant to the onset of instability and conflict? Is armed conflict changing in nature in historical perspective? Do new technologies – including social media – change the nature of upheaval? Are international approaches aimed at containing, managing and resolving armed conflict appropriate and effective for the 21st Century? The module will be of particular interest to students on the International Relations programmes, but also anyone interested in armed conflict in the modern world.

This module will be taught by an internationally-recognised scholar of civil war, Edward Newman. Professor Newman has published widely on civil wars – including, most recently, Understanding Civil Wars: Continuity and Change in Intrastate Armed Conflict, and the Routledge Handbook on Civil Wars. He is also the editor of the journal Civil Wars. His experience prior to joining the University of Leeds includes almost one decade working within the UN system at the UN University, where he organized projects related to armed conflict and peacebuilding.

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