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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Contemporary Issues in International Relations (PLIT10105)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryContemporary Issues in International Relations takes a recent topic one emerging in the news or in the academic literature and provides students with the tools to situate it within the larger academic literature, the political context and methods of analysis.

Topic for 2023-24: Rebels, Conflict and State-Making
This seminar delves into the intricate dynamics of state formation, conflict, and governance through the lens of rebel movements. Starting from bellicose theories of state formation, the seminar navigates the complex terrain of how conflict shapes the emergence and evolution of states. A focal point of discussion will be rebels in civil wars, exploring their organization, strategies of reproduction, and the institutions they establish during times of conflict. We will investigate which factors shape the variety of armed governance and armed movements and how this legacy of violence impacts post-conflict state-building trajectories. While the seminar¿s primary regional focus is on Africa, it is not confined to this region.
Course description The substantive content of this course changes each year depending on topical issues and will be taught by experts on the issue itself or on particular approaches/methods from amongst permanent and postdoctoral staff. Students will learn substantive information about the topic itself but perhaps more importantly they will acquire the generic skills to analyse any phenomenon: how to place it within a larger context, where to look for information about context, the types of variables (whether social, economic, cultural, or political) to consider when analysing the phenomenon, how to identify wider theories and concepts to analyse the phenomenon and how to acquire evidence that would support one theoretical interpretation over another.

For 2023-24 :
This course seeks to enhance our grasp of conflict¿s multifaceted nature and its influence on state-making. It achieves this by exploring theories of state formation and rebel governance and by examining various instances of insurgency and rebel-led post-conflict state-building. The research-led seminar is closely related to the course organizer¿s ongoing research project ¿RebeLeg: Legacies of violence, rebels and post-conflict state formation¿.
The covered themes include:
I. Does War Make States? The Bellicist Paradigm
II. Trends in Civil Wars and Rebels
III. Organizing Insurgency
IV. Wartime Institutions and Political Orders
V. What Shapes Rebel Organizations and Wartime Institutions? I
VI. What Shapes Rebel Organizations and Wartime Institutions? II
VII. Victorious Rebels and State-Building I: The Case of Eritrea
VIII. Victorious Rebels and State-Building II: The Case of Somaliland
IX. Victorious Rebels, State-Building and Renewed Civil War: The Case of South Sudan
X. How Rebels Govern After Civil War
Each weekly class of this seminar unfolds with a concise introductory lecture delving into the thematic focus of the week. Following this, engagement is fostered through interactive Q&A sessions and discussions, often prefaced by collaborative group work to encourage diverse perspectives. Certain classes feature brief student presentations, offering an opportunity for exploration of specific rebel organizations or cases of post-conflict state-building.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is only available to senior honours students on a Politics or International Relations (including joint honours) degree programme.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by:

2x Essay, 2000 words max (50% each)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their written coursework. Feedback on their Short Paper will be designed to help improve the quality of their Research Paper. Students will be provided face-to-face feedback on their seminar participation.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate comprehensive understanding of contemporary debates on the chosen event, from both a theoretical and empirical perspective
  2. have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in relation to the chosen event
  3. critically engage with key explanatory theories, concepts, institutions and issues in the study of the chosen event
  4. deploy and justify the use of case studies to deepen our understanding of international relations
  5. engage in critical thinking, reflection and debate for academic and non-academic consumption.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking and analysis
Team work
Effective written and verbal communication
Effective research and analytical skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiser Course secretaryMs Alison Lazda
Tel: (0131 6)51 5572
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