International relations

The Politics of Armed Groups: Rebels, State and Society

Module code: 014IR
Level 6
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay, Coursework

This module takes non-state armed groups as an entry point for understanding the dynamics of contemporary violent conflict and ways to address it. Instead of working with grand and often abstract theorisations about ‘wars’ in general, it looks at the main protagonists of violent conflict, the ways they mobilise, organise, fight and govern in situations of protracted armed conflict and fragmented statehood. 

Structured in three parts, the module introduces you to:

  • theories about the root causes and drivers of contemporary violent conflict
  • concepts for understanding the politics of non-state armed groups and their multifarious relations to state and society
  • a range of policy processes and interventions that aim at ending and transforming violent conflict.

In doing so, the module draws on interdisciplinary debates and case studies from around the world. Importantly, you are encouraged to choose particular armed groups to explore how theories and concepts work out by doing your own empirical research. 

Module learning outcomes

  • Systematically understand different theories of armed mobilisation and the behaviour of armed organisations during war
  • Devise arguments in relation to armed mobilisation and armed organisations based on in-depth knowledge of the state of the art of the relevant fields
  • Show appreciation of the difficulties of data collection on armed mobilisation and how this affects scholarly analysis and media reporting
  • Critically evaluate the assumptions underlying common policy interventions addressing armed organisations during and after war
  • Applying the acquired analytical skills to extend knowledge of armed mobilisation to concrete empirical cases
  • Communicate knowledge and analysis of both theories and policies related to armed mobilisation to specialist and non-specialist audience