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IR4585   Politics of Secession

Academic year(s): 2023-2024

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 10

Semester: 2

Planned timetable: Thurs 10am-12pm

This course explores the emergence and resolution of separatist movements around the world—those groups of individuals who reject their continued membership in an existing sovereign state and instead claim the right to govern themselves. While we will be expansive in our focus, considering classic secessionist movements alongside movements for greater autonomy as well as irredentist movements, we will only investigate the dynamics of movements that have, at their core, some claim about political sovereignty. We will contrast the tactics of movements, from peaceful approaches in places like contemporary Quebec, Scotland or Catalonia, to violent insurrections in places like the Chechnya, Northern Ireland or South Sudan. Along the way, we will consider the ethical and legal arguments for and against secession as well as consider cases where separatist tendencies lead to accommodation within the national state rather than independence from it.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass IR2006

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: One hour teaching and one hour seminar (x10 weeks)

Scheduled learning hours: 44

Guided independent study hours: 264

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: Coursework = 100%

As defined by QAA
Coursework: 100%

Re-assessment: Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator: Dr D Muro Ruiz
Module teaching staff: Dr Diego Muro

Intended learning outcomes

  • Develop a critical understanding of secession and counter-secession within the context of a multidisciplinary approach to international relations
  • Evaluate historical and contemporary secessionist conflicts around the world and identify the cultural, economic and political root causes
  • Critically evaluate the policy, strategy and tactics of state responses as well as their effectiveness
  • Formulate clear and concise written arguments in a range of formats, supported by academic evidence.
  • Skills of literature search, the use of open source material, and an introduction to basic and principal elements of comparative analysis
  • Develop skills in research design and analysis using qualitative and quantitative techniques in IR.