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Civil War



Objective: 1. Students will study the causes, dynamics and outcomes of civil wars.
Objective: 2. Students learn to apply the concepts and theories in a final paper.

Content: This seminar will survey recent research on the causes, dynamics and outcomes of civil wars. It provides students with a broad understanding of relevant concepts, theories, and empirical findings, and also with the tools to conduct their own research. Topics covered include civil war onset, armed group organization and recruitment, intensity and forms of violence against civilians, rebel governance of civilians, rebel group fragmentation and alliances, counterinsurgency, and the aftermath and legacies of civil wars. Assignments will encourage students to think creatively about issues related to civil wars, assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of theoretical and empirical approaches, and to refine their own intellectual stance.

Methods of Instruction

This course is a seminar; most time is spent on discussion of the reading material.

Study Material

Journal articles and book chapters. The readings for the first meeting will be available on Blackboard.


Examination includes participation in class, a review essay in which students compare a fictional with an historical account of a civil war, and an analytical essay in which students apply concepts and theories studied in class to a civil war of their choosing.


Tuesday 3 February until 24 March, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A33 (except 10 March in room SA37)
Friday 6 February until 27 March, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A33 (except 20 March room 1531*)

  • Sylvius Laboratorium, Sylviusweg 72, Leiden

Admission requirements

For MIRD students only.