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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

The term 'dirty war' has gained currency within both popular and academic discourse, especially within the realm of conflict and terrorism. Popular and academic interest in the terms can be traced to the deployment of the tactics of 'dirty war' in a number of notorious cases by states seeking to quell internal conflict. This course will address the historical, social and political conditions in which 'dirty war' arose in specific contexts while analysing both its form and consequences.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Stuart Durkin

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either International Relations (IR) or Politics (PI)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Programme Level 4

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course employs comparative theoretical, historical and political analysis to approach an examination of 'dirty wars' via a series of empirical case studies. In historical terms, the concept will be traced from first usage in the French colonies of Indochina and Algeria. The theoretical framework to the course will be generated via the contrast between 'dirty war' and its antonym 'clean war'.  Historical and theoretical expositions thus serve as the foundation for applied analysis via a series of case studies which represent the diverse conditions and forms of 'dirty war' evident in the extant literature. The case of Argentina serves as the backdrop for an examination of 'dirty war under the conditions of dictatorship'. 'Post-dictatorship and dirty war' is explored via a consideration of the case of Spain. 'Dirty war and democracy' is analysed via the case of Northern Ireland. Taking a historical and theoretically rigorous approach to empirical cases, the course aims to equip students with an analytical framework with which to approach the concept of 'dirty war' in both past and contemporary contexts.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt

  • Group report on dirty war case study
  • Individual research diary


  • Resubmission of individual research diary

Formative Assessment

  • Group presentation of interim findings.
  • Draft report structure.


Written feedback for summative assessment would come within the usual timeframe, but the course provides for regular formative feedback from course co-ordinator and peers.

Course Learning Outcomes


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