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Graduate Seminar: Civil Wars

Course Details

Course Number
POLS 6043
Section Number
POLS 6043
Fall 2014
O'Donohoe Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

FALL 2014

Instructor:  Suguman Narayanan Ph.D.

Class Meets at: PY 209
Time:   W 5.30-8.20 pm

Office Hours:  T:  1.00-2.00 pm; 5.00-6.00 pm; 7.20-8.20 pm
W: 4.00-5.30 pm; 8.20-9.20 pm
R:  1.00-2.00 pm; 5.00-6.00 pm; 7.20-8.20 pm
F:  4.00-5.30 pm
Office Location: Room 201 O’Donohoe Hall

Official Homepage:

Course Description

This course is a graduate study of the major theories and ideas in the study of worldwide civil wars and the politics of conflict. It covers both the qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of civil wars. If time permits we will also analyze articles employing formal or game theory. It will cover theories and ideas of quite a number of different scholars and views.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students are required to have a grasp of the above. At the end of the course students are required to be able to identify key concepts and terms in civil war study. Further, the student should exhibit an ability to apply these in explaining development within the field. In addition, students are also required to understand and analyze political events and trends. Hopefully, what has been learned may give you a better understanding of what happens within the country and outside, and the questions posed by political scientists, etc. The reading assignments should prepare you for related graduate level courses in political science and government, and PhD level courses. The writing assignment/term paper is designed to improve both your scholarly-writing skills as well as research skills. At the end of the semester, students must have at least a minimal, basic understanding of how to apply statistical packages to analyze civil wars and political conflict. Since this is a theoretical course, students should not expect what has been learned here to substantially aid them in a profession that requires field training, such as in a federal government policy job.

Required Texts

Required books:

Statecraft (Online resource)

Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide, 4th edition or later. Diane Schmidt (Required by the Political Science department)

Spectrum of Terror. By R. Hrair Dekmejian. La edition. CQ Publishers.

Understanding Ethnic Conflict. Taras and Ganguly. 4th ed. 2010

Triangulating Peace. 2001. Bruce Russett and John Oneal. Norton Series.

Essential Readings in World Politics. 2008. 3rd edition or later. Karen Mingst and Jack Snyder. Norton Series.

World Politics: Trend and Transformation by Charles W Kegley, Jr. Wadsworth Publishing. La Edition.

Handbook of War Studies II. 2000. Manus Midlarsky (ed).

Other Supplementary Materials

The instructor will recommend books, articles, and other reading materials in the course of the semester. A list of journal articles and books will be provided.

Some Important Expectations

Each member of the class will show due respect for one another. Ideas may be challenged, but individual attacks are unacceptable. I will not tolerate rude and/or abusive language in class. A student who makes fun of the instructor directly or indirectly, for example, in the form of a slang or a jargon will be dealt with seriously.  I will also not tolerate any other unacceptable behavior in class, for example, the habit of talking to others when the instructor is talking, or while another student is engaged in a discussion with the instructor. Whistling while class is in session is another example of distracting behavior. It is impossible to list all disturbing behavior so it is naturally expected of you, as members of institutions of higher learning to understand what constitutes appropriate behavior or otherwise. In keeping with the theme of respect, all students must adhere to the code of academic conduct in order to maintain appropriate and acceptable conduct when class is in session (Please read the Student Handbook).

In addition, students are also required to understand the seriousness of plagiarism in the academic world. Failure to do so, as evidenced by plagiarism or other honor violations will result in a failing grade or more serious consequences.

Note: No person will be discriminated based on age, race, religion, national origin, sex, or disability. (Any student with a disability certified by the University disability office should notify the instructor immediately for proper arrangements to be made).

Course Evaluation

Examination  30%

Attendance 20% (You are allowed one absence). For every additional absence, 5 percentage points will be deducted from the overall attendance points.
Attendance will be taken regularly. If you are late or missed class, it is your responsibility to find out what announcements you missed. Although I sometimes repeat important announcements, it is solely your responsibility to find out missed information. The instructor is not responsible for repeating announcements already made in class, nor respond to emails about missed announcements. The instructor reserves the right to deduct attendance points for students who are late for class or enter and leave class while lecture is in session. You are at a risk of losing some of your total points if you are unable to provide a correct answer when asked in class or if you did not prepare for assignment/class readings for class discussions.

Participation  30% Points will be awarded for quality class participation only. Points will be deducted for negative participation.


Oral Presentation 20%

Term Paper Points will not be awarded for term papers. However failure to complete the paper or if the term paper is not up to the par, points will be deducted from the overall total points. The paper must be based on the topic of the oral presentation. The objective is to ensure ability to write a quality graduate paper and the ability to understand search techniques, correct style of scholarly writing, avoiding plagiarism, etc.  Papers must adhere strictly to requirements- Page numbering, Paper length,  Introduction and Conclusion, Scholarly style, stapled (not clips), and not late. Failure to follow this can result in either reduced paper grade or fail (Will be discussed in greater detail in class).

Note: The instructor reserves the right to deduct points from the overall/total points for students who violate any part of the “Some Important Expectations” section above. There may or may not be prior warning about losing points.   


Make-ups for exams, assignments, presentations, and term papers will only be given if you miss the deadline due to official reasons, for example, a medical emergency. It will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Official proof is required. The same requirements apply to term papers.

Course Overview

Lecture notes and reading assignments are based on the following. This serves as a general outline of the course topics and flow. You should expect some modifications.

1:  Introduction. What is politics? Government and its functions. Ideologies    and forms of governments.

2: Contending theories of international politics: Realism, Liberalism, and Idealism. Basic ideas of Morgenthau, Mearsheimer, Fukuyama, and Wilson, and precursors to paradigms like Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Refer to portions of chapters 1 and 2 in the Russett book.

3:      Power Politics: the Morgenthau reading (Balance of Power), the Mearsheimer reading.  
Introduction to Civil Wars—Types, Schools of Thoughts, etc.
How are the above connected to civil wars. 

4:      Intro to Civil Wars (cont’d).
Wendt, Alexander. “Anarchy is What States Make of it” (Available online: International Organization, Spring 1992, Vol 42 Issue 2).
Onset of Civil Wars

5:  Democratic Peace Theory/Liberal Peace Theory and international conflict    (Ch 11 in the Russett book).  
  Is there civil peace? Democracy and civil war (the Hegre et al article).

6:  The Clash of Civilizations. The COC and onset of civil wars.

7:  Ethnicity, Culture, Religion and Civil War

8:   Terrorism
  Islam and Civil War
  “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” in American      Political Science Review 2003 August, 97:3

9:  Asian Civil Wars

Instructor Notes/Power Points

Themner and Wallensteen 2011: “Armed Conflict”

Dixon 2009: “What Causes Civil Wars?”

Narayanan and DeRouen 2010: “The Onset of Civil War”

Gurr 1994: “People Against States”

Fearon and Laitin 2003: “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War”

Collier and Hoeffler 2002: “Greed and Grievance in Civil War”

Ross 2004: “What Do We Know about Natural Resources and Civil War”

Morgenthau: “Politics Among Nations”/”Six Principles of Political Realism”

Mearsheimer 2001: “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”

Hegre et al 2002: “Is there Civil Peace?”

Huntington 1993/1996: “Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order”

Toft 2007: “Getting Religion: The Puzzling Case of Islam and Civil War”

Pape 2003: “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” in American      Political Science Review 2003 August, 97:3

Websites to Look at (to help you understand the subject):

Peace Research Institute Norway:

The Correlates of War website:

Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University:
(for the datasets,



Week 14: Thanksgiving Break (November 26-28; return December 1).

  Last day of classes for all: Friday, December 5, 2014. Last day of class for    this class, Wednesday December 3, 2014.



Dr. Sugumaran Narayanan (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Submission Format Policy Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at