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Compulsory Assessment

Unlike many undergraduate PAIS modules, the assessment for this module is compulsory 50% assessed essay (3000 words) and 50% exam. In other words, you must write and submit one 3000 word assessed essay and sit a two-hour, two-question exam. If you do not submit the compulsory assessment you will be subject to the standard penalties for late submission until you reach 0 (zero) marks. (Note: if you are returning in 2012-13 from a year spent studying abroad, or a year of Temporary Withdrawal from your degree, you are subject to the old departmental essay limit of 5000 words.)

For all information to do with assessment and essay writing, please see the online PAIS Undergraduate Handbook.

Assessed Essay

You can either choose a title from the list below, or alternatively you can negotiate your own title (see the PAIS Undergraduate Handbook for information). Please do not leave agreeing a title with me until the last moment. Please remember that you are prohibited from writing an exam answer on the same topic as you write your assessed essay on. You are permitted to write your assessed essay on the same general topic as your formative essay but this would then mean you could not write on this in the exam.

Assessed Essay Title List 2012-13

1. Critically debate the significance of colonialism for late twentieth century ethno-national conflict.

2. ‘[A] primordial perspective is extremely useful for understanding the emotional basis of ethnicity and the tenacity of ethnic bonds. But because of its psychological reductionism, its inability to account for social change, and its disregard for political and economic influences, it fails to provide a comprehensive theoretical explanation of ethnic [conflict]’ (McKay 1982). Discuss.

3. ‘[I]t remains unclear whether economic agendas are primary causes of conflict – that is, whether people rebel to satisfy greed – or whether they are instrumental in order to help realize political agendas of grievance’ (Wolff 2006). Discuss.

4. ‘[A]ll nationalisms are gendered; all are invented; and all are dangerous…’ (McClintock 1997). Discuss.

5. ‘[There is a] purely instrumental agenda of nationalist policies that mobilise women when they are needed… at the front, only to return them to domesticity or to subordinate roles in the public sphere when the national emergency is over’ (Kandiyoti 1991). Discuss.

6. Is the phenomenon of child soldiers a simple human rights issue or are there deeper conceptual and philosophical concerns to be addressed?

7. Critically analyse the significant recurrence yet varying prevalence and forms of wartime sexual violence, with particular reference to situations of ethnic or ethno-national conflict.

8. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of non-violent resistance strategies in bringing about change in ethnically divided societies.

9. Is assured participation in the political decision-making process for ethnic groups in conflict (power-sharing) likely to help prevent ethnic violence or merely entrench inter-ethnic tensions?

10. What are the perils and virtues of presidentialism in ethnically divided societies?

11. Which, if any, type of electoral system for the legislature has the greatest potential to reduce inter-ethnic tensions in deeply divided societies?

12. ‘Intermingled population settlement patterns create real security dilemmas [in situations of ethnic conflict] that intensify violence, motivate ethnic “cleansing,” and prevent de-escalation unless the groups are separated’ (Kaufmann 1998). Discuss.

13. Is federalism a useful political strategy for resolving (or preventing) ethno-national conflict?

14. Is international intervention and mediation in peace processes the most effective way to bring about an end to violent ethno-national conflicts?

15. 'True resolution of ethno-national conflict is impossible; management is all that can be hoped for'. Discuss.

16. ‘Filling the bold, and often vague, pronouncements of peace settlements with substance is the unique contribution that post-conflict reconstruction makes to conflict settlement, and in doing so it is… a fundamental and necessary element of the conflict settlement process’ (Wolff 2006). Discuss.

17. ‘True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice’ (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Discuss with respect to transitional justice and reconciliation efforts in societies emerging from ethnic or ethno-national conflict.


Formative (Non-Assessed) Essay

You are also required to prepare one formative essay, due in through PaIS e-submission by Friday 7 December, 2pm (end of Week 10, Autumn Term). You must choose a title from the list below (you may not negotiate a title for a non-assessed essay). The essay should be in the region of 1500-2000 words and is to be fully referenced and include a bibliography. While the formative essay is not part of your final assessment, it is important both to prepare for examinations and to get feedback on your essay skills in preparation for the assessed essay. (You are also welcome to write a voluntary second non-assessed essay in the Spring Term if you wish to get more feedback.)

Formative (Non-Assessed) Essay Title List

  1. Colonialism is responsible for ethno-national conflict in Sri Lanka and Rwanda. Discuss.
  2. The British state is to blame for contemporary armed conflict in Northern Ireland. Discuss.
  3. It was inevitable that the Yugoslav state would eventually disintegrate. Discuss.
  4. Critically discuss the ‘primordialist’ versus ‘instrumentalist’ debate about ethnicity.
  5. Critically evaluate the main approaches to the study of nations and nationalism(s)
  6. Explain the claim that nationalism is inherently gendered.
  7. The end of the Cold War has brought about an explosion of ethnic conflict. Discuss.
  8. Ethnic conflicts are usually motivated by economic greed. Discuss.
  9. Inequality between ethnic groups breeds violent ethnic conflict. Discuss.
  10. Female combatants are merely pawns in a nationalist game. Discuss.
  11. Sexual violence is merely an unfortunate by-product of the violence of war. Discuss.
  12. Violent struggle is the only way to achieve political change in deeply divided societies. Discuss.
  13. Careful institutional design is crucial to lasting peace in an ethnically divided society. Discuss.
  14. ‘If ethnic groups cannot live together it is safer to let them live apart’ (Horowitz). Discuss.