Spring 2020 - POL 448 D100

Selected Topics in International Relations (4)

The Comparative Study of Resistance & Rebellion

Class Number: 5294

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5020, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    AQ 5006, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Eight upper division units in political science or permission of the department.



Selected Topics: The comparative study of Resistance and Rebellion

In the last two decades, civil wars have emerged as the most common form of armed conflict in the world today. The source of much of the violence seen globally, they constitute a central obstacle to development in the regions where they occur. It is no coincidence that, in the same period, armed civil conflict has emerged as both one of the most widely—if unevenly—covered phenomena in international media. Such conflicts have implications that stretch well beyond the borders of countries directly affected, even influencing our domestic politics in important ways. For these and other reasons, armed civil conflict has become one of the most intensively studied phenomena in political science. At the same time, many political movements advance their causes successfully through the use of strategies of nonviolent resistance, and this too has in recent years become an intense locus of study.  

In short, there is now a diverse and well-developed research agenda focusing on understanding different aspects of both resistance and rebellion, including their causes, internal dynamics, resolution, and long-term effects. Scholars in this area employ a variety of methods, ranging from immersive ethnography, to small- and large-n comparative analysis, to formal modelling. This course provides a survey of some of the most significant research on different facets of this research programme, while also exposing students to a range of specific cases of civil conflict and resistance. These cases will provide students with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and empirical study of conflict, and the link between the two.  

By the conclusion of the course, students will be able describe and distinguish between the different forms of nonconventional politics, identify and use leading theories accounting for the onset, dynamics, and resolution of both violent civil conflict and nonviolent resistance in the world today; produce comparative analyses of conflict situations using a range of empirical resources; and think and write critically about what such comparative analysis tells us about the causes, dynamics, and consequences of conflict both in specific cases and in more general terms.


  • Lecture and tutorial participation 10%
  • Readings review 15%
  • Policy Memo 20%
  • Major paper outline 5%
  • Major paper 25%
  • Final exam 25%



All readings will be available via the course website.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html