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Level 5

5AAH2003 The Northern Ireland Troubles

Credit value: 30

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Conor Morrissey
Teaching pattern:
20 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3-hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH1012 The Provisional IRA due to possible overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

It is often claimed that, in proportion to its size, Northern Ireland is the most heavily researched area on the planet.  The explosion of violence that took place between the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the peace process of the 1990s continues to attract interest from historians, political scientists and sociologists.  Controversies over the Bloody Sunday killings, ‘collusion’ between the British security forces and paramilitary groups, and the violent campaign fought by the Provisional IRA remind us of the painful legacy of the Troubles – no longer ‘current affairs’, but not quite safely ‘History’ either.  At the same time, Northern Ireland has become a favourite case study for all those interested the problem of reconciling clashing national aspirations, the influence of religion on politics, and the question of when, if ever, we should ‘talk to terrorists’.

Provisional teaching plan 

Semester 1

1: Introduction to the Course
2: Ulster: The Making of a Divided Society
3: The Origins of Partition
4: Discrimination
5: Segregation: Protestants are from Mars, Catholics from Venus?
6: The 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement
7: The Whore of Babylon and the Fur Coat Brigade: The Rise of Ian Paisley
8: Stormont in Crisis: The 1969 Riots and after
9: The British Army: How the Battle for Hearts and Minds was Lost
10: What Really Happened on Bloody Sunday?

Semester 2

11: The Birth of the Provisional IRA
12: Ulsterisation: An Acceptable Level of Violence?
13: Backlash: The Ulster Workers Council Strike
14: Thatcher, the Hunger Strikes, and the Emergence of Sinn Fein
15: The IRA and its Victims
16: Killing Catholics: The Loyalist Paramilitaries
17: The Origins of the Peace Process
18: The United States and Irish American Nationalism
19: The Good Friday Agreement: Who Won?
20: Conclusion

Suggested introductory reading 

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.


R. English, Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003, 2012)

P. Dixon, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace (2008)

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