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Academic Year 2023/2024

Political Violence in Ireland (HIS33000)

Arts & Humanities
3 (Degree)
Module Coordinator:
Dr Edward Burke
Mode of Delivery:
On Campus
Internship Module:
How will I be graded?
Letter grades

Curricular information is subject to change.

This module will introduce students to the phenomenon of political violence. Beginning with an examination of Charles Tilly’s groundbreaking work on collective violence, the module will study theories on banditry, crowd violence, faction fights, civil wars, insurgency and paramilitarism. Taking loyalism as a case study, this module will chart the different types of violence employed by loyalists in Ireland (especially in Ulster) since the 19th century to alter or overturn state policy and put pressure on rival political communities. The module asks whether such strategies and tactics of violence have been successful or counter-productive. It will also closely examine the complex relationship between loyalism and the British state. Among the key events covered in the module will be loyalist opposition to Catholic emancipation, clashes with Irish nationalists and Home Rulers in the late 19th century, police-loyalist violence in Belfast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the formation of the Ulster Volunteer movement, loyalist veterans, paramilitaries, and the creation of the Northern Ireland state in the 1920s and, finally, loyalist violence during the Troubles at the end of the 20th century.

About this Module

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1) Understand key theories of political violence and paramilitarism.
2) Comprehend the history of loyalist violence in Ireland since the early 19th century, including the role of the loyal institutions such as the Orange Order and paramilitary organisations.
3) Analyse and interpret relevant primary sources.

Indicative Module Content:

This module will address the following topics: 1) faction fights and loyalist-state relations in the 19th century; 2) loyalist paramilitaries and the new Northern Ireland (1920-1923); 3) The Troubles, loyalist violence and the British and Irish states.

Student Effort Hours:
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will be taught through a combination of seminars and lectures. There will be an emphasis on primary source analysis – ranging from government/police intelligence reports to local ballads.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Seminar: Seminar Contribution. Assessment follows the policy of the School of History in grading seminar participation. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 3,500 word research paper on an assigned question or a topic selected by the student in consultation with the module coordinator. (40%). Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Presentation and Essay (40%): Ten-minute presentation and a 1,500 word essay on a seminar topic. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components

Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 

Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.