Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Violence and Civilization in World Politics
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 11 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe and evaluate Norbert Elias's study of 'the civilizing proces'
  • Discuss the significance of Elias's approach for a comparative sociology of states-systems
  • Discuss the significance of Elias's approach for the study of the modern states-system
  • Describe and analyse different forms of harm in world politics
  • Describe recent writings on the significance of the principle, 'do not harm', for a contemporary global ethic
  • Analyse the extent to which there is an overlapping global moral consensus about the desirability of reducing violent and non-violent harm
  • Compare the modern states-system with earlier international systems, and describe any differences with respect to dominant ideas about cruelty and human suffering
  • Demonstrate through written work and seminar discussion an ability to synthesise conceptual analyses of harm and historical approaches to harm in international politics

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of recent efforts to develop linkages between Historical
Sociology and International Relations Theory. Particular attention will be paid to:
  • Norbert Elias's analysis of changing attitudes to violent and non-violent harm in Western societies over the last five centuries
  • how Elias's approach can be used to compare international systems
  • how far modern attitudes to cruelty and human suffering have shaped the modern international system
  • whether the modern international differs from past international systems in aiming to reduce or eliminate violent and non-violent harm.


The module begins with a critical analysis of Elias's civilisation and violence in the domestic and international poltics of modern Western states. It then explores the extent to which there is a growing overlapping moral consensus in world politics about the desirability of eradicating violent and non-violent forms of harm. Comparisons with the Ancient Greek city-state system and medieval international society are used to discuss whether modern international relations are distinctive in their approach to eliminating or reducing the varieties of harm.


This module is at CQFW Level 7