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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3395 The Troubles: The Northern Ireland Conflict, 1968-Present

40 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Dr Alan Macleod

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

For over 30 years, Northern Ireland was wracked by a bloody conflict, resulting in the loss of over 3,700 lives and injuring many more. ‘The Troubles’ witnessed the further polarisation of an already deeply divided society and the transformation of a civil rights movement into an ethno-sectarian conflict, resulting in the emergence of paramilitary organisations, regular terrorist attacks, the massive deployment of British troops, and the engagement of international actors, including the Republic of Ireland and the United States. This special subject will examine the causes and course of the Troubles. The module will seek to give students an understanding of how each of the parties to the Troubles viewed the conflict and their role in it, and how they, in turn, interpreted the positions of other actors and how these may have changed over time. It will consider the importance of history to all sides of the conflict, and how this was often used as a justification for the position taken, or actions, of all sides. It will look at the development of paramilitarism, political initiatives, and security policies, and international interventions. A range of primary sources will be introduced, for example government papers from the British Northern Irish, Irish, and US archives; political party sources; memoirs; and newspapers and TV broadcasts. Students will also be introduced to an extensive and often partisan historiography, helping them to develop their skills in working through this, and allowing students to develop their own views of the conflict.Content note: while the focus of this module is mainly political in character, to effectively consider the themes that arise it is necessary to read, view, and discuss material that covers some challenging topics. These topics include murder, torture, political violence, suicide, and language that may be deemed to be offensive.


The special subject aims to:
- Provide students with a thorough grounding in the history of the Troubles.
- Understand the differing positions of each of the parties to the conflict, how they understood this, and how they viewed the position of others, and the impact that this had on the course of events.
- To allow students to carry out concentrated study of primary source material.
- To allow students to develop knowledge and skills of historical research and develop further as independent researchers.
- To allow students to develop further key transferable skills, such as group/teamwork, interpersonal skills, presentation, and problem-solving skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate a mastery of the history of the Troubles.
- Identify particular historiographical interpretations of the conflict, evaluate them effectively, and form an individual viewpoint.
- Demonstrate advanced skills in the study, interpretation and use of primary sources.
- Further develop their skills of oral and written communication and visual presentation.


Topics covered may include:
Partition; the civil rights movement; unionist and loyalists; nationalists and republicans; the role of the UK and Irish governments in the early Troubles; internment; Bloody Sunday; Sunningdale and its aftermath; the American role in the Troubles; the ‘long war’; the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement; and Northern Ireland in the post-GFA period.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Reading to prepare for seminars (120 hours)
Further self-directed reading (66 hours)
Preparing and researching essay, including formative elements (80 hours)
Preparing and researching portfolio, including formative elements (80 hours)
Reflection on feedback (6 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

For the essay, students will produce a 500-word annotated plan by the Monday of Week 10 and will receive a 15 minute one-to-one meeting to discuss the feedback on the plan.
Practice gobbet answers in semester 2, feedback on approach to the first essay, and on the presentation question and plan.
Weekly seminars.
Office hours and tutorials.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Portfolio3 x 500-word gobbet answers; 1 x 1,500 word essay; 5 minute presentation, with PowerPoint, handout, and 750-word outline of argument.50.00
Essay4,000-word essay50.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:41:12


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