PSCI 5830: International Conflict

Dr. Paul Hensel
Phone: 369-7330
Office: 165 WH

Course Description

This course examines theoretical and empirical work on the causes and consequences of militarized conflict between nation-states. We will consider causes from a variety of different levels of analysis (ranging from individual psychology to national attributes or interactions and the structure of the entire global system) and a variety of different theoretical perspectives (including work drawing from realism, institutionalism, and everything in between). After taking the course, students should be familiar with the scientific literature on militarized conflict, should be able to evaluate this literature in a critical yet constructive fashion, and should be able to begin producing their own research in this area.

It should be noted that this will not be a history course, and we will not be discussing or examining individual wars. The assigned readings emphasize generalizable theories and quantitative evidence on general patterns of conflict involvement across time and space, and this will be the focus of our discussions in this course. Students wishing to study or discuss specific conflicts/wars or current events are encouraged to take courses from the History department or to form their own discussion groups, as we will not be discussing these types of topics in this course.

This course is an important part of the Political Science Ph.D. program, and will thus be aimed at preparing Ph.D. students to pass their qualifying exams and to become serious scholars of conflict. Students from other departments or programs are welcome to take the course, as long as they can keep up with a course taught at this level. It must be emphasized that this course will involve intensive reading of advanced scholarly research; nearly every reading that is assigned involves formal mathematical models, quantitative data analysis, or both. While students are not necessarily expected to be able to produce their own quantitative and/or formal research, they must be able to understand and discuss it. Students who are unable to do this or who are unwilling to accept the validity of quantitative analyses of conflict patterns should avoid this course, as they will be wasting both their own time and that of their classmates, and their grades for participation and for the discussion papers will reflect this.

Required Texts

The following three books are required. They have been ordered from the campus bookstores, but should be available at such locations as,, or

Another book is optional. It is a decade out of date now, and the third edition of this book focused on civil war rather than updating the chapters on interstate conflict. Nonetheless, many of the chapters in the second edition are still quite useful for this course:

Most of the other readings are available through JSTOR or UNT's other e-journal subscriptions; the ones that are not will be made available on the instructor's Blackboard page for this course.

The rest of the syllabus, including assigned readings, is available in the complete syllabus (in PDF format).
Last updated: 6 February 2017
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