GV4B8      Half Unit
Contemporary Civil Wars: Comparative Case Studies

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr William Kissane CON5.06


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics and MSc in Conflict Studies. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course examines social science explanations of the origins, intractability and outcomes of civil wars. It does this through the comparative analysis of various cases. These cases may vary from year to year. Particular stress is on: The Concept of Civil War. Patterns of civil war since 1945. Large N approaches. Decolonisation, Democratisation, and State-Building as causes of civil war. The emergence of security dilemmas. Theories of conflict resolution, reconstruction and the settlement of civil wars.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT for private study and assessment preparation.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to submit two non-assessed essays.

Indicative reading

P Collier and N Sambanis (eds) Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis (The World Bank); C Cramer, Civil War is not a Stupid Thing (Hurst and Co); K Holsti, War the State and the State of War (Cambridge University Press), R Paris, At War's End (Cambridge University Press).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 16.5
Merit 61.2
Pass 22.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2015/16: 20

Average class size 2015/16: 10

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication