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Violent Rebels in International Affairs


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


This course will deal with the politics and strategies of violent non-state actors in international affairs in the modern period. The student will be introduced to the state of the art in the study of irregular conflict. Rebels in modern history - in the shape of the Spanish guerrillas during the Napoleonic wars up until the IS fighters in Iraq and Syria - will take centre stage.
The role and importance of terrorists, insurgents, warlords, bandits and pirates has increased over the last two centuries. Civil or intra-state violence has far outnumbered inter-state conflict. Understanding and explaining the violent behaviour of rebels currently forms a thriving area of research. The questions this course will deal with are: to what extent are these actors pursuing strategies to attain political ends, like classic strategic thinking would stipulate? Or are there perhaps other drivers of violence? To what extent are there links between rebel tactics and the pursuit of specific goals? Are these actors at all capable of operational planning, given the often fragmented nature of their organisations?

Course objectives

The student will be trained in the competency of making and presenting, in an oral and written form, strategic analyses of rebel strategic behavior


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Students are expected to:

  • read the pre-assigned readings prior to each class, and participate fully in the discussions. Bring the readings to class;

  • submit a proposal for an end of term paper, which contains: a research question; a 1 page outline, and a preliminary reference list;

  • present your end of term paper topic on a well-defined aspect of the course and write a term paper (max. 3,500 words).


  • Participation and contributions to class: 10%

  • An individual presentation, based on the preliminary research findings of the term paper: 40%

  • Term paper: 50%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit is only available for students who have both presented and handed in a complete version of the term paper and when the mark for this paper ends up insufficient, a resit is possible.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


not applicable