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icono de curso

Civil Wars


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Elective Courses




In this class we will undertake an in-depth and overarching examination of the literature on domestic armed conflict. We will try to understand the causes of civil wars, their dynamics and characteristics, and their consequences. We will start by defining civil war and discussing why should we study it as a distinct phenomenon from other forms of political violence and/or international war. We will explore micro and macro level approaches to the causes of civil wars, considering classical works in economics and political science, as well as some recent contributions. We will consider the relationship between the international system and civil wars, bridging the literature on internal conflict with that of international relations. We will look at different types of civil wars, paying special attention to forms of warfare and to the relationship between ethnicity and conflict. We will then dig into civil war dynamics: tactics and repertoires of violence in conflict (including violence against civilians), characteristics of armed group organizations, the varying relationship between armed groups and the state, and rebel governance during wartime. Finally, we will explore the determinants of civil war duration and termination, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the political and economic consequences of conflict, and the impact of transitional justice processes in postwar reconciliation.


The final grade will be determined by four factors: class participation (20%), two short essays (60%), one class presentation (20%):

  • Class participation (20%): Regular attendance is mandatory and students are expected to have done the required readings and actively participate in class discussion.
  • Two short essays (60%): Students will be ask to write two short essays (2-3 double spaced pages) on two readings which will be selected from the bibliography in the syllabus. It is also possible to write an essay about a movie related to the topic of the class, with the permission of the professor.
  • Class presentation (20%): students will be asked to prepare a class presentation on one of their essays and/or a case study related to civil wars. The presentation should last 15-20 minutes. All presentations will take place during lectures 4 and 5.