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Unit information: Political Violence in 2015/16

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Unit name Political Violence
Unit code SPAI30017
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Brad Evans
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 module will provide students with an introduction into the political problem of violence. Examining alternative typologies, students will be provided with a thorough grounding in the key theoretical approaches, along with a platform for considered empirical engagement. The module will:

  • Introduce students to the key theoretical approaches to violence in order to provide an analytical framework with which to critique the many forms it takes
  • Develop skills in critically questioning prevailing understandings of violence which have a direct impact upon our understanding of social regression, conflict resolution, and peaceful co-habitation
  • Interrogate the differences between different theories on violence as they relate to historical and contemporary experiences
  • Debate and critique the problem of violence in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on relating the theory to the experience of the subject.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the main theoretical approaches to the problem of violence
  2. Critically evaluate the contested theories which underwrite the these different and sometimes inter-connected approaches
  3. Relate theories of violence to historical and contemporary experiences
  4. Have a sophisticated understanding of the contested political nature of the reasoning/use of violence

Teaching Information

One hour lecture and two hour seminar per week

Assessment Information

Please state the methods used for formative and summative assessment, including essay word length, length and type of exams, projects, etc. The relative contributions of the different summative assessments to the overall unit mark should also be included, e.g. 3-hour written exam (60%), 2000 word essay (40%). Please link the assessment to the intended learning outcomes bearing in mind that it is expected that all intended learning outcomes are assessed.

Formative: 1500 word essay Summative: 3,000 word essay Both assessments assess all learning outcomes

Reading and References

Core text to include the following: Evans & Giroux, Beyond the Spectacle of Violence (City Lights, 2015)

Further readings will include chapters from:

  • Scheper-Hughes & Bourgois, Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology (Wiley, 2003)
  • Lawrence, On Violence (Duke, 2007)
  • Pinker, The Better Angels of Nature (Penguin, 2012)
  • Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (Grove, 2005)
  • Agamben, State of Exception (University of Chicago Press, 2005)
  • Butler, Precarious Life: The powers of mourning and violence (Verso, 2006)