PO2ICO-Insurgency and Counterinsurgency

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Fausto Scarinzi

Email: fausto.scarinzi@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This course aims to provide students with a conceptual, theoretical, and empirical foundation in the political and strategic issues related to insurgency and counterinsurgency based on political science research and the relevant practitioner literature. After exploring key concepts, the course will address the causes and conduct of the conflicts between insurgents and counterinsurgents as well as the factors shaping their outcome. The course will particularly focus on the effectiveness of indiscriminate violence and coercion in counterinsurgency, and the reasons why the practice of counterinsurgency may deviate from the prescriptions of military doctrines.


Assessable learning outcomes:

The course intends to enable students to:

  • understand and apply the concepts of insurgency, counterinsurgency, and civil war, in addition to other related concepts;

  • appreciate the causes and permissive conditions behind insurgencies based on evidence;

  • understand the strategic principles shaping the conduct of insurgency and counterinsurgency;

  • appreciate and critically evaluate the nexus between indiscriminate violence in counterinsurgency and war outcome based on evidence;

  • develop a critical understanding of the factors shaping the strategy and outcome of counterinsurgency campaigns based on evidence;

  • understand and critically evaluate the reasons why – and the extent to which – the practice of counterinsurgency may deviate from counterinsurgency doctrine.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The course will be based on lectures and seminars designed to refine students’ analytical skills.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 14
Guided independent study 176
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Report 20
Set exercise 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

By the last day of week six of Spring Term, students will submit one 500-word briefing paper.

By the end of Spring Term, students will submit a 3,000-word essay and a 1,000 word report.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:

    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):



    Required text books


    Specialist equipment or materials


    Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


    Printing and binding


    Computers and devices with a particular specification


    Travel, accommodation and subsistence


    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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