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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3505 Dirty War: Insurgency, the State and Cities

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr James Worrall

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides a critical understanding of contemporary counter-insurgency in cities. The causes of insurgency are addressed, but the module focuses on the rationales, challenges, and trends associated with counter-insurgency in urban areas. Relevant strategic and ethical challenges are identified and explored through a series of case studies based on influential operations in cities such as Algiers, Grozny and Baghdad.


This module will provide a theoretical and empirical exploration of counter-insurgency in contemporary cities.

Learning outcomes
1 Demonstrate a theoretical understanding of conflict in an urbanising and globalising world
2 Exhibit a historical and conceptual understanding of state responses to insurgency
3 Show a critical understanding of different conceptualisations and empirical forms of resistance
4 Demonstrate an ability to analyse academic debates concerning contemporary conflict.

Skills outcomes
1 Use reading lists, the library and, where relevant, the internet, to locate relevant material, including finding additional material beyond that specified in the module outline
2 Note taking from lectures and desk research
3 Contribute to group discussions in seminars
4 Give coherent oral presentations in seminars
5 Plan, write, and reference essays and bibliographies.


1. Counter-insurgency in an urbanising world.
2. A new strategic era? Contemporary and historical COIN. Theory and practice of concepts such as security, order, control, resistance, rights, insurgency and terrorism.
3. Academic perspectives on COIN and tools of analysis.
4. Ethical issues: Policing by militaries, the use of torture, Trinquier
5. Israeli approaches to COIN.
6. Consolidation & Essay Preparation Week (Reading week).
7. A rare success story: Oman.
8. Internal policing operations, Political economy of internal
policing: Grozny.
9. Politics as a continuation of war, dirty war in Guatemala.
10. Mission impossible: In, for example, Afghanistan.
11. Learning the hard way: Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to read the core and additional publications listed in the module bibliography in preparation for seminar discussions, presentations and essays. This requires careful and reflective reading, note taking, summarising, preparation for class discussion, and developing a sense of a field of literature in addition to engagement with individual readings.

Students are also encouraged to use their initiative and skills of discernment in finding additional relevant material.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student's progress will be monitored on a weekly basis by means of:

- Student contributions to class discussion, which will be monitored throughout the course, though not assessed
- Essay planning will be monitored through submission of a mid-term essay plan and bibliography
- Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 6,000 End of Term Essay100.00
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: 30/04/2019


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