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PPR.329: The History and Politics of Northern Ireland

Tutor: TBC
Term: Not available 2013/14

Course Description

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the historical development and recent political history of Northern Ireland. The module will offer students the opportunity to learn about the way in which history and politics have been connected in the region, why Northern Ireland was created and why political power was devolved from Westminster in 1921. The module also aims to provide the opportunity for students to learn how the political system functioned and failed to function from 1921 onwards and how this period led to the emergence of violent political conflict in the 1960s. The course will cover the political conflict from 1969 and formation of paramilitary groups as well as British policy in the region and eventual emergence of a peace process during the 1990s.

This is a 10 week module which is taught in Michaelmas term only. The course is taught in a workshop format with a 2 hour session every week. The syllabus is structured in a way that introduces students to the historical background to the creation of Northern Ireland and the emergence of the unionist and nationalist communities. It then looks at the political breakdown and emergence of violence in the 1960s and British security policies. Finally, the course looks at the emergence of the 'peace process' and the terms of political settlement in the region from the 1990s to the present day.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast past and present developments in the political history of Northern Ireland.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the history and politics of Northern Ireland through written course work, summer examinations and classroom participation.
  • Compare conflicting interpretations of the political conflict and peace process in the region (e.g. nationalist, unionist, British/Irish governments etc).
  • Critically examine the various attempts made to control and resolve political conflict in Northern Ireland, through written course work.


40% coursework and 60% exam.
Coursework: 1 essay of 3000 words. Exam: 2 hours.

Teaching Method

1 workshop (2 hours) weekly.
The course is supported by online materials on the dedicated course web-site.

Introductory Reading

Arthur P                         Government and Politics of Northern Ireland
Bew P & Gillespie G       The Northern Ireland Peace Process 1993-1996
Darby J                          Scorpions in a Bottle: conflicting cultures in Northern Ireland
Hennessey T                  A History of Northern Ireland
Mitchell P & Wilford R    Politics in Northern Ireland
O'Leary B & McGarry J   The Politics of Antagonism: understanding Northern Ireland.

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