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HIS3232 : Civil Rights and Armalites Northern Ireland since 1969

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Campbell
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The Northern Ireland conflict, or the ‘troubles’ first broke out in 1969 and have proved to be one of the most intractable conflicts in Europe since the Second World War. In proportion to its size, it is argued that Northern Ireland is the most heavily researched area on earth, but what caused a war of this scale to break out in Ireland, and what perpetuated it for over 35 years, with a death toll of over 3,500 people? At the heart of the conflict are a tangle of interrelated questions. Who should govern Northern Ireland and what should the constitutional position be? How can social and economic inequalities, especially in the field of employment and housing, be remedied? How can the state accommodate religious and cultural differences relating to education, the Irish language and the broad spread of cultural expression? How can political disputes be conducted and resolved without resorting to violence? How can security and order be justly and inclusively administered in a deeply divided society? This module will study the political, religious, social and cultural history of the region since 1969 and, using primary source documents and oral histories, will investigate and dispel the myths that surround some of the debates. It will focus on the move towards conflict resolution on the island and in Britain, examining the roles of both the Dublin and London governments during the conflict and peace process.

The aims of this module are:
-To enable students to study the conflict in Northern Ireland in-depth and analyse the different interpretations of its causes and longevity;
-To enable students to engage with both primary source documents from the period, oral testimony collected since, and the major historiographical debates concerning the conflict;
-To introduce students to recent historical research and to guide them in the analysis of primary documents and texts;
-To give students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of a short period in Anglo-Irish relations.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual subjects may differ from those listed.

The origins of the ‘Troubles’
From Civil Rights to Armalites – Dissent into violence
The new Opposition – ‘New’ Nationalism?
Direct Rule and the power-sharing experiment, 1972-1974
The Limits of British Politics – ‘Ulsterisation’ and the Hunger Strikes
The Anglo-Irish Agreement
Thinking outside the (ballot) box – the origins of the Peace Process
From Ceasefire to Good Friday Agreement
Memory and the ‘Troubles’

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Introduction to topic and overview.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion233:3067:00Preparation for the two assignments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00Seminars.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities1010:00100:00structured weekly reading and documentary work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:001 hour introductory seminar to the module - guidance on sources, reading, etc.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Essay skills workshop and Q&A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Drop-in session before assessments.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide an introduction or overview that introduces the key themes of each (subsequent) seminar and will give students the necessary guidance they need to direct their own study.

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem solving skills and adaptability.

Workshops will provide guidance for essay writing.

Drop-in session allows feedback and guidance, and students to ask questions before each assessment.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30Documentary commentary of 1,500 words (including footnotes, excluding bibliography)
Essay1A702,000 word essay (including footnotes, excluding bibliography)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1M3-5 minute group presentation on seminar content each week (different group each week)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essays test students’ ability to conduct independent research, relate primary source documents to broader problem, ability to formulate an interpretation of evidence in response to a question, and academic writing skills.

Documentary commentary exercises test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticise a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance.

The formative assessment is a short oral presentation on either assessment. This allows students to test ideas and get both peer and lecturer feedback before submitting their written assessment, as well as oral presentation skills.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists