Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

POLS550 Comparative Regional Conflicts

Comparative consideration of sources, dynamics, and implications of regional conflicts, for example in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Exploration of interactions of local and international politics in regional crises.

This paper considers the origins, evolutions and outcomes of major regional conflicts in a comparative context. The lecturer will concentrate on Middle Eastern cases such as the Syria/Iraq crisis and the conflicts in Libya and Yemen for illustration of more general themes. For your own projects and seminars you will be free to test other cases in other regions. We shall apply comparative politics and international relations theory to these conflicts, while exploring the practical working-out of such concepts as "failed state", "structure and agency" and "proxy war".

Paper title Comparative Regional Conflicts
Paper code POLS550
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,646.75
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,250.00

^ Top of page

Limited to
Teaching staff
Professor William Harris
Paper Structure
  • Weeks 1-3: Introduction to studying Comparative Regional Conflicts. Investigation of key themes and theoretical approaches:
    • regional security complexes and regional conflict formations
    • proxy wars
    • structure and agencyrelationship between ethnic/sectarian conflict and international security; application of International Relations theories
  • Week 4: Discussion of students' literature reviews
  • Week 5: Overview of conflict in the Middle East
  • Weeks 6-7: Presentations on Middle East conflicts
  • Weeks 8-9: Overview and presentations on conflicts in the Caucasus
  • Weeks 10-11: Overview and presentations on conflicts in the Balkans
  • Week 12: Overview and presentations on conflict in Ukraine
  • Week 13: Conclusions
No required textbook or course reader.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the paper, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical and conceptual approaches to studying Comparative Regional Conflicts;
  • Show knowledge of issues and themes in contemporary regional conflicts;
  • Identify relevant sources for analysing regional conflicts;
  • Apply their understanding and knowledge in written analysis and through oral presentation.

^ Top of page


First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 10:00-11:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22