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the Empirical Study of Civil Wars



The primary goal of this seminar is to develop the capacity to evaluate existing theories on contemporary civil conflict using empirical evidence. The course will cover several broad topics: the onset and duration of civil wars, armed groups, the role of natural resources and state capacity on the onset of civil wars, the consequences of armed conflict, and conflict resolution and termination. In this seminar we will tackle questions like: What are civil wars and how can we distinguish them from other forms of conflict? Under which circumstances do civil wars break out? Does ethnic fragmentation breeds conflict? What determines the duration of armed conflict? What are the social and economic consequences of civil wars? What is the role of natural resources on the onset of conflict? All these questions will be addressed and discussed using primarily quantitative empirical evidence as is presented in the articles.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Students gain knowledge about the current trends and developments in conflict research.
Objective 2: Students can apply their knowledge to critically evaluate existing studies.



Mode of instruction

Seminar format with active discussion so f the readings, complemented with introductory short presentations by the lecturer

Course Load

The total course load of 10 EC is approximately 280 hour and is spent on attending classes (around 30 hours), the required readings (120 hours),Inl the presentation (50 hours), and the final paper (80 hours).

Assessment method

One longer paper
One presentation



Reading list

Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler. 2004. “Greed and Grievances in Civil War.” Oxford Economic Papers 56:563-595.
Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. 1994. “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases.” International Security 19(1): 5-40.

A list with additional journal articles (syllabus) will be available before the start of the course on Blackboard


See Preliminary Info