The Politics of War, Violence and Intervention

War and violence are often portrayed as a senseless and irrational breakdown of order with atrocities and suffering caused by political, ethnic or religious differences. War and violence however can also have its own system of meaning, with winners and losers, beneficiaries and victims. The purpose of this module is to offer a comprehensive overview of many of the themes associated with the study and analysis of violence, war and humanitarian intervention. This should enable you to penetrate and illuminate the proverbial fog of war and to make the politics of war and violence more legible and coherent.

Who is this course for

The course will be structured for those who have an interest in the subject material and it will reference many of the contemporary conflicts we have seen in the world today such as Afghanistan, Iraq/Syria, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia. No background knowledge or training is required although prior engagement with the module ' 'Thinking About Development' would be helpful in enabling you to place the themes of this module within the security-development nexus that is a key part of contemporary policy thinking in this area.

What does this course cover

A core focus of our work will be the issue of violence in all its forms and the struggle to achieve human security and peace in the midst of war and conflict. The course introduces inter-disciplinary debates from sociology, anthropology, history, psychology and primarily political economy to try and provide insights into the origins and causal roots of violence, conflict and war.

We will cover subjects such as structural and institutional violence, famine, political violence, terrorism, ethnic conflict and civil war. We will look at specific empirical case studies of crisis states to provide students with a grounding in analytical and conceptual approaches to understanding the political dimensions of failed states, civil wars, counterinsurgency and complex emergencies. The course will also try and give students the tools to interrogate debates around the effectiveness of humanitarian aid and intervention policies as well as global governance initiatives to engender security and development policies as a means of preventing or resolving conflict.

By the end of the course you should be able to have a better understanding of the historical and critical intellectual landscape of contemporary theories of violence, conflict and war. You will also be able to better engage critically with the theoretical claims and policy recommendations regarding crisis states and the need for humanitarian intervention, conflict resolution, peace keeping and state building measures as we engage with the paradigm of war to peace transitions.

What will it be like

The teaching will be informed by set readings and discussions, a tutor presentation
and student debates. The tutor will monitor your own engagement and contribution and you will have the opportunity for one to one sessions with the tutor to discuss your progress and also issues brought up during the course. Most importantly, considering the module focus, you will have the opportunity to work on issues of considerable complexity, topicality and political significance. You will learn to draw on different sources of information and different analytical perspectives in order to express your own views clearly and concisely in debate and discussion with your fellow students.

What else do you need to buy or do

There is no one set text for the course and all the material for the course will be made available through the Moodle page for the course. You may want to come along with some materials for you to take notes and store any handouts from the sessions

What this course could lead to

The next module in this series of 'politics and development studies' topics will be,
'In search of hope: The politics of migration' in Term 3. Many of the themes referenced in this module will be revisited to enable you to put the issues of forced migration and the refugee crisis into its historical and political context. The first module in this series is 'Thinking About Development' in Term 1 and while each module does stand alone, a progression through all 3 modules will enable students to have a more confident and coherent approach to the broader subject material and its various conceptual connections and intellectual continuities.

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Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’