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Module Code - Title:


Year Last Offered:


Hours Per Week:













Grading Type:


Prerequisite Modules:

Rationale and Purpose of the Module:

This module will undertake a comprehensive review of the literature on armed conflict in the international and domestic arenas. Much of this literature is from the field of political science but this module will also draw upon insights from other disciplines. Students will analyse leading and critical theories of armed conflict, their variables, their causal claims, and, of central importance, their ability to explain contemporary and historical cases of conflict and predict possible future conflicts. This survey of the literature on this topic will utilize scholarship employing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. This module is designed primarily for postgraduate students who seek to understand (and, through their own scholarship, contribute to) the literature on armed conflict.


Defining war and other forms of armed conflict. Levels of analysis. Individual level theories of armed conflict: misperception theory, evoked sets, national role conceptions, historical analogies, prospect theory Group level theories of armed conflict: organizational process model, group think, bureaucratic politics model State level theories of armed conflict: democratic peace theory, diversionary war theory, death watch theory, public opinion-based theories, regime-based theories Systemic level theories of armed conflict: neorealism, hegemonic stability theory, balance of power theory, offence-defence theory, cultural realism, power preponderance theory, status discrepancy theory, power transition theory Environmental theories of armed conflict: greed-based theories vs. grievance-based theories, environmental degradation-based theories, environmental disaster-based theories. Theories of genocide and the motivations for humanitarian interventions. The future of wars and other armed conflicts.

Learning Outcomes:

Cognitive (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis)

On completion of this module, students should be able to: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of individual-, group-, state-, and systemic-level theories of war and conflict and how these may be applied to real-world cases of conflict; environmental theories of war and conflict, theories of genocide and humanitarian interventions, and trends in the future of war and conflict. Appraise literature on the origins of a wide range of contemporary and historical armed conflicts. Use communication and information technology to retrieve and present information. Identify the main information sources on conflict. Present literacy skills through assigned readings, discussions and written papers. Present explanatory arguments systematically, including analysing evidence and applying general approaches or theories to organise, analyse and clarify choices.

Affective (Attitudes and Values)

On completion of this module, students should be able to: Understand the assumptions, arguments and norms that underpin the theory and practice of international conflict. Question the causal claims put forward by leading and critical theories of the origins of wars and other armed conflicts.

Psychomotor (Physical Skills)

Not applicable.

How the Module will be Taught and what will be the Learning Experiences of the Students:

The module is taught in a seminar format, in which students converse with each other and the lecturer about literature on the origins of wars and other armed conflicts. Students are encouraged and expected to proactively and creatively articulate their knowledge and opinions of the research discussed during the seminars in a collaborative and responsible manner.

Research Findings Incorporated in to the Syllabus (If Relevant):

Prime Texts:

Cashman, Greg (1999) `What Causes War? , Lexington Books.
Cashman, Greg Robinson, Leonard (2007) An Introduction to the Causes of War , Rowman & Littlefield
Levy, Jack Thompson, William (2010) Causes of War , Wiley-Blackwell
Sobek, David (2008) Causes of War , Polity
Vasquez, John (2009) The War Puzzle Revisited , Cambridge University Press
Vasquez, John (2012) What Do We Known about War? , Rowman & Littlefield

Other Relevant Texts:

Programme(s) in which this Module is Offered:

MAPDSTTFA - Peace and Development Studies
MAPOLITFA - Politics
MAPUADTFA - Public Administration
MAINSTTFA - International Studies
MAEPGOTFA - European Politics and Governance

Semester - Year to be First Offered:

Module Leader: