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Unit information: State and Non-State Violence in Latin America in 2021/22

Unit name State and Non-State Violence in Latin America
Unit code POLI20017
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Roddy Brett
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit analyses armed conflict, civil war, dictatorship and so-called post-conflict violence in the Latin American region (including gang and drug-related violence) from a historical perspective. The unit focuses on the period from the Cold War to the present day, investigating how patterns of violence have shifted and evolved over time in the region. The unit draws the student towards and understanding of ‘patterns’ of violence – in particular, the causes of political violence, individual motivations of violent actors, the nature of the violence, and an analysis of the actors involved (as perpetrators, victims, facilitators, and so on). The unit engages with a wide range of diverse conflicts and manifestations of political violence – including Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, amongst others – and seeks to understand the factors that led to conflict/authoritarian onset, shaped the trajectory of the violence and led to its ending. The unit engages with theoretical approaches central to core subjects of international relations and political science, juxtaposing theoretical frameworks with discussions based upon comparative empirical research in the Latin American region. The module introduces broader academic discussions relating to theories of political violence, genocide and human rights.


• To introduce the students to Latin America’s history of conflict and violence, and, in particular, to the specific case study countries
• Encourage students to think critically about the factors that shaped revolution and counterrevolution in Latin America.
• Develop student’s understanding of the complex regional dynamics that determined the historical shifts between authoritarianism, civil war and democratic regimes in Latin America.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

• Evidence clear understanding of a range of conceptual frameworks and comparative literature on Latin American politics.
• Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the factors, processes and practices shaping civil war, armed conflict and authoritarianism.
• Critically apply relevant theoretical frameworks to historical events and processes.
• Critically engage with the factors shaping the Cold War in Latin America.
• Integrate empirical evidence into theoretically and conceptually grounded arguments and comparative assessments of violence in Latin America.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

1500 word essay (25%)

2500 word essay (75%)

All Learning Outcomes are assessed by both pieces of assessment.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLI20017).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.