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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Conflict and Peace in Africa (PGSP11453)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryConflict and Peace in Africa introduces students to the study of political violence on the continent in historical and comparative perspective. We will explore major theories, trends, and methodological questions in the study of armed conflict through the lens of in-depth case studies from Africa.

The course aims to introduce students to two overlapping fields of study - war and political violence; and African history and politics - through case studies of conflict and peace. These issues and related analytical skills are important for any student interested in understanding contemporary Africa in its full complexity.

The course is particularly relevant for students of politics and IR, social anthropology, sociology, law, and history. By taking an interdisciplinary approach with robust mixed methods, students will gain familiarity with the concepts and tools that underpin conflict and peace studies more broadly.

Key topics include: conflict, civil war, political violence, histories of resistance, electoral violence, terrorism, and a range of other forms of insecurity. We will also address peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and civil society peace-building.
Course description This course provides a rigorous and reflective approach to rethinking conflict in Africa. Now more than ever, Africa is a continent in transition. Deaths from pitched battles are on the wane, but the number of armed conflicts is stubbornly stuck around 12-14 each year, creating long term insecurity and instability in many parts of the continent.

Forms of political violence range from internal wars to cross-border terrorism, vigilantism to electoral violence. In this course, we will explore the causes and consequences of civil war, the internal dynamics of armed groups, and ask why some conflicts last so much longer than others.

We will also study the peacekeeping, peace-building, and reconstruction efforts necessary for sustainable peace. What policies and interventions are most effective at international, regional, and local levels for ending violence? Classes will focus on key case studies each week such that, by the end of the course, students will have deep knowledge on a several comparative countries and conflicts.

Key topics:

1. Colonial violence and resistance
2. On Violence and liberation
3. Causes of civil war
4. How to start a rebel group
5. Citizen violence: Militias and vigilantes
6. Electoral violence and Terrorism
7. Effects of armed conflict: Displacement and de-development
8. Gender-based violence
9. Peacekeeping and peace-building
10. Trauma, Justice, and Memory
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Students will be assessed on three formal assignments, two of which are part of a formative assessment and feedback process, and the third of which is summative:

(i) In-class presentation and full participation in seminar discussions (10%); students will be marked by transparent criteria for presentations; consideration will be given to students┬┐ diverse communication and learning styles and language skills, and students are expected to demonstrate growth and improvement in the quality of their comments and contributions in class over the course of the semester;

(ii) A 1,500-word essay (20%) due at the halfway point of the semester; this essay will follow the writing-as-process pedagogy to help students structure their ideas, organize persuasive academic arguments, and digest academic literature for the social sciences; students will receive feedback from this essay prior to the final assignment to ensure they have developed basic research and writing skills;

(iii) A 3,000-word essay (70%) due after the final class; prior to the deadline, students will be encouraged to submit an essay abstract or outline to the instructor and will receive formal feedback on how to write a successful piece of academic writing for research.
Feedback Feedback, as well as terms and conditions of assessment will be in line with School and University guidance and best practices.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical knowledge and understanding of the key theories, concepts and issues most central to studies of contemporary armed conflict, particularly in Africa.
  2. Apply the knowledge, skills, and understanding gained in the course through academic and day-to-day engagement with research and news about war, violence, and African politics.
  3. Critically analyse, synthesize, and evaluate research and contemporary debates about conflict and violence, and navigate complex issues to make informed opinions and analyses.
  4. Communicate through empirically grounded and theoretically informed written work and oral presentations, their knowledge of contemporary conflict, peace, and related issues.
  5. Demonstrate autonomy, accountability, and initiative in their ability to question, examine, and understand key conflict/violence-related issues affecting Africa, through independent research.
Reading List
Clapham, Christopher. African Guerrillas. Oxford: James Currey, 1998.

Collier, Paul, Nicholas Sambanis, and World Bank, Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2005.

Ellis, Stephen. The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of an African Civil War. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

Fujii, Lee Ann. Killing Neighbors. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.

Hoffman, Danny. The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

Reno, William. Warfare in Independent Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Stewart, Frances, Horizontal Inequalities and Conflict: Understanding Group Violence in Multiethnic Societies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Weinstein, Jeremy. Inside Rebellion. Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will be equipped with new skills in:

1. Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources;
2. Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims;
3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account;
4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgement.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Samuel Iwilade
Course secretaryMr Adam Petras
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