Programme And Module Handbook
Course Details in 2019/20 Session

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Module Title LH Conflict, Statehood and Sovereignty in World Politics
Department Political Sci & Intern'tl Stud
Module Code 08 29055
Module Lead George Kyris
Level Honours Level
Credits 20
Semester Semester 1 or 2
Restrictions None
Description This module aims to provide students with an understanding of ‘frozen’ conflicts, i.e. unresolved territorial disputes without substantial armed confrontation, and how they relate to the concept of sovereignty in international politics. Arising from competing claims to statehood over the same territory, frozen conflicts help us explore how the concept of sovereignty ‘shapes’ confrontation, security and world politics today.

In order to do so, the module will look at a series of examples of frozen conflicts from around the world, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, that raise a series of interesting questions: how has sovereignty developed as an idea through history and how does it frame our understanding of what is a state? What happens when, in the context of a frozen conflict, different groups claim statehood over the same territories? How can sovereignty be understood in the context of efforts to establish a new state, such as in the case of Kosovo? How effective are self-declared states structures and how does that impact their claim to statehood and sovereignty? What does the lack of diplomatic recognition of unrecognised states tell us about their sovereignty? What is the role of global actors in frozen conflicts, such as Russia in the former Soviet space, Turkey in Cyprus or the European Union and United nations, and how it is affected by ideas about sovereignty? How does the international community engage (or not) with unrecognised states in those conflicts, like Palestine or Taiwan? In a discussion dominated by statehood and sovereignty, how can we debate the role of society and non-state actors in frozen conflicts, such as in Ukraine? What limitations do conventional notions of sovereignty pose to our understanding of world politics and to security? Is, after all, sovereignty socially constructed? And, can we get alternative, more constructive, conceptualisations of sovereignty?
Learning Outcomes By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Analyse and compare a series of ‘frozen’ conflicts in world politics, including disputes in the post-Soviet space, MENA and Asia, and appreciate the role of international actors in them, like the United Nations, the European Union or Russia
  • Identify various secessionist movements today and reflect on the place of unrecognised states in world politics
  • Critically evaluate the way ‘sovereignty’ and ‘statehood’ is understood in world politics and how these concepts inform the trajectory and management of different conflicts
  • Formulate independent judgements about conflict in world politics, especially in the context of ‘sovereignty’ debates
Assessment 29055-01 : 1000 Word Bibliography Paper : Coursework (25%)
29055-02 : 3000 Word Final Assessment : Coursework (75%)
Assessment Methods & Exceptions Assessment: 1 x 1,000 word annotated bibliography paper (25%); 1 x 3,000 word essay (75%)
Reassessment: N/A
Other There are two exchange versions of this module (30550 and 30552)
Reading List