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POL2082 : Political Violence and the Modern State

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Hartmut Behr
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module will examine different forms of political violence and relate them to the formation and reassurance of the modern state, in that the state is either the target of political violence or itself the committer of it. The module will discuss political theories of violence and empirical examples. The purpose of the module will be to introduce and engage students with a major phenomenon of politics - namely politically motivated violence committed by, and directed against, the state.

Outline Of Syllabus

(I) Introduction: Organization and Structure of the Module
(II) Theories and concepts of political violence (J Galtung & H Arendt)
(III) Nationalism I – Territory and Borders
(VI) Nationalism II – Homogeneity
(V) Nationalism III – National Ideologies (JG Fichte)
(VI) Imperialism – European Nationalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries
(VII) Bureaucracy, Modernity, and Rationality
(VIII) Ideology, Discomfort, and Culture
(IX) Capitalist Rationalities, Consumerism, and Violence
(XI) Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
(XII) Political Violence and the International System
(XIII) Conclusion

Week 1: Forms and concepts for the study of political violence
Week 2: Ideology as physical and psychological violence
Week of 3: The nation-state as violence
Week 4: Discomfort and Culture
Week 5: Capitalism, consumerism, and violence
Week of 6: Political Violence and the International System

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture132:0026:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will critically introduce students to the most important contemporary work on political violence across a wide variety of topics. The seminars will deepen the topics in small group tuition.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000 words
Essay2A502000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay should motivate students to up to the topics throughout the whole semester and practice and assess individual research and writings skills.

The essay will allow students the opportunity to probe a particular issue in greater depth than would be possible in an exam. The take home exam will assess the students understanding of, and ability to critically evaluate the key, ideas, concepts, theories and empirical material of the course across the entirety of the curriculum.

Students will submit two 2000 word essays. Essays will assess the detailed knowledge possessed by the student and their ability to place this within the context of the general literature on Political Violence and the Modern State more generally.

Reading Lists