Political Thought on the Just Rebellion

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

The last few years have seen people rise up in many parts of the world and, in so doing, they follow long traditions of revolt and resistance, and justify the impulse to rebel with both political reform programmes and deep ethical and philosophical, not to mention religious reasoning. This module considers those reasoning and looks at work on the just rebellion from different parts of the world, and not just from Western sources. The module has the general objective of providing a comparative and multicultural approach to the political philosophies, theories, norms and practices of rebellion, both in various historical national contexts and in a contemporary global context.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the debate between just rebellion and just authority, both in the Augustinian/Thomist debate and as expressed in the political thought of selected other cultures.
  • Demonstrate a broad comprehension of theoretical approaches to rebellion and revolution, both in the Western literature and in selected other literatures, and as expressed in practice by rebel movements.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of rationalistic, problem-solving approaches to rebellion and dealing with rebellion, and an appreciation of ‘irrational’, morally intuitive and spiritual approaches to rebellion.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of approaches to pacific rebellion, the moral steps towards violent rebellion, and the norm of chivalry within violent rebellion.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of militarised rebellion and the ‘command rebellion’.
  • Understand major contemporary literature on rebellion against world systems and global hegemonies.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 2 hour seminar per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 100%

Suggested reading

  • Chan, Stephen, The End of Certainty, London: Zed, 2009.
  • Finer, Samuel, The Man on Horseback, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.
  • Freire, Paolo, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Seabury, 1970.
  • Goldstone, Jack A (ed.), Revolutions of the Twentieth Century, Boulder: Westview, 1991.
  • Gurr, Ted R, Why Men Rebel, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules