SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Political violence

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

The module offers Masters students in the MSc in Middle East Politics an opportunity to engage with the a range of debates surrounding political violence in a variety of manifestations prevalent in Africa and Asia, but especially the Middle East. The module themes include conventional and civil warfare, colonial and decolonisation violence, counterinsurgencies, torture and domestic repression, demonstrations and riots, and terror.

Enrolment is limited to 28 students.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The aim of the module is to 

  1.  engage with various debates surrounding political violence
  2.  understand different social scientific approaches to the question of violence
  3.  hone the students’ analytic and research skills
  4.  hone the students’ oral and written communication abilities.


  • 2 hour seminar per week

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by two essays on topics that will be suggested. The first essay is 2000 words long and contributes 40% of the mark for this module; the second, is a 3000-word essay and contributes 60% of the overall mark for the module. Please consult the PG Departmental Handbook for valuable advice and style requirements for writing essays. Dates for the submission of essays are (i) the first Monday after the reading week; (ii) at the beginning of the subsequent term.

Suggested reading

The following readings are to be completed before the first session:

  • Raymond Williams, 1983. “Violence” in Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 329-331.
  • Charles Tilly, 2003. The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-25 ("Varieties of Violence") and 55-80 (Trends, Variations, and Explanations").
  • Hannah Arendt, 1969. "Reflections on Violence", New York Review of Books, 27 February 1969


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules