The Politics of Violent Conflict and its Legacies in Northern Ireland

Module code: PL7534

Module Outline

With the Belfast Agreement of 1998, the thirty-year long violent conflict in Northern Ireland appeared to be drawing to a close, although there has been sporadic political violence, and problems with the implementation of the Agreement, in the subsequent period. Nonetheless, public and scholarly attention has increasingly turned to the thorny issues of the legacies of this bitter, protracted conflict. This module examines a range of key issues concerning how to deal with the past in a divided society like Northern Ireland. The module begins with some theoretical and comparative questions regarding the politics of transition (from conflict to peace) and truth recovery, before analysing the Northern Ireland experience in detail. The module will specifically address the prospects for a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process in Northern Ireland; the debate surrounding the politics of victimhood; the role of governments, political parties and civil society groups with reference to the conflicted past; it will also examine in-depth case-studies of the report of the Consultative Group on the Past (Eames-Bradley) and the Haass negotiations about the past (2013). The module also analyses some public enquiries into contentious aspects of the conflict (including the Saville enquiry into Bloody Sunday); finally, the module interrogates the continuing political antagonism in Northern Ireland, and speculates that the ‘past’ will continue to be a critical arena of dispute into the future.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Teaching will be delivered through the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – Blackboard - this allows for a range of innovative and engaging teaching techniques to be used such as online presentations, interactive message boards and Wikis, as well as one-to-one contact through conventional channels. 


  • Journal article analysis (20%)
  • Essay (80%)