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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5865M Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Daniel Marwecki

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module explores various interpretations as to why insurgencies begin and how they are sustained. It also examines the strategic and operational dilemmas that various regimes faced when trying to quell revolts in the 20th century. Key themes such as decolonisation, redemptive violence, 'minimal force', intelligence, collaboration, pseudo warfare, the role of the media and 'divide and conquer' provide the basis for this module.


To engage students in a comparative and multi-dimensional re-evaluation of twentieth-century insurgencies and counter-insurgencies. To do so by making use of both empirical and theoretical source material.

Learning outcomes
On completing this module students will:
1. understand the political and theoretical dimensions of why insurgencies break out
2. understand the strategic and operational dilemmas regimes face when conducting counter-insurgency campaigns
3. develop methodological skills in conducting multi-disciplinary research
4. demonstrate an ability to make thematic comparisons across a variety of historical situations
5. have a firm grasp of the historiographical controversies surrounding this topic


1. Introduction: how do insurgencies begin?
2. Counterinsurgency: between brutality and minimal force
3. Palestine, 1936-1939
4. Palestine, 1945-1947
5. Kenya
6. Malaya
7. Algeria
8. Vietnam
9. The psychology of insurgency and counterinsurgency
10. Cultural representations: counterinsurgency in film and literature
11. Comparative conclusions

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are expected to prepare thoroughly for each seminar. This will include:
- the reading and analysis of set materials
- broader, independent reading
- engagement with the work of other seminar participants

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored formally through presentations in the course of the module as well as informally through weekly responses in each seminar. A face-to-face feedback session will be held with each student following their presentation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,000-word essay due by Monday of teaching week 955.00
Literature Review1 x 2,000-word literature review due by Monday of teaching week 635.00
PresentationVerbal presentation, format to be determined by tutor10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 20/09/2019


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