PIED1551 Power and Conflict - an Introduction

Reading List

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

From relations within the family to violence on the battlefield; from the strength of the strongest army to the power of advertising, discourse and language; from the use of music and theatre to subvert to the role of office politics to gender and race relations, power and conflict underlies all social, economic and political interactions, relations, institutions and processes. This module provides a unique insight into the way power and conflict is studied, researched and understood from a range of disciplines. Through material provided by researchers in history, sociology, performance, geography, media, politics and cultural studies, you will explore historical and cutting-edge case studies, delivered through a flexible, digital format, and learn about what makes power and conflict such a key area of concern in the world today.
The five topic areas relate to the subthemes of the Power and Conflict Discovery Theme, providing a taster of what you can study in your future Discovery journey. The module aims to give you the knowledge, confidence and skills to select modules that interest you from a range of disciplines, and to broaden your learning experience at the University of Leeds. You will study theories and case studies that relate to the following thematic areas: Governmental and Institutional Power and Conflict; Social and Societal Power and Conflict; Popular Cultural and Performative Power and Conflict; Personal and Interpersonal Power and Conflict; and Theories of Power and Conflict. As you move through the module, you will learn from experts from around the University who will provide you with insights on how they apply the concepts of power and conflict in their research, and how relations, processes and structures of power and conflict shape the world we live in.
This module is delivered through a combination of small group teaching in the classroom and digital content. So if you share an enthusiasm for cutting-edge, case study-based learning in an exciting inter-disciplinary environment then this module is for you.


This level 1 discovery module provides students to a foundational introduction to the five key sub-themes of the power and conflict discovery theme: governmental and institutional; personal and interpersonal; societal and social; theories of power and conflict; performative and popular cultural. The module combines historical and contextual analysis with theoretical discussion, making extensive use of case studies. Key questions addressed include: (a) theory: how do different theories understand power and conflict? How is non-conflict a manifestation of power? (b) personal and interpersonal): How is power understood and exercised within interpersonal relationships such as the family or the workplace? (c) popular cultural and performative: how does popular culture allow insight into power and conflict? How does the body allow a performative approach to power and conflict? (d) governmental and institutional: how do organisations such as the UN or national government respond to conflict? How do they assert power? How effective are they?How do populations experience state power in their lives? (e) social and societal: how is power and conflict structured through social formations such structures such as race, class and gender? What is the normative role of power? How do they shape understandings of power?


Syllabus: The module is made up of five sub-themes of equivalent of two weeks each, with an accompanying introduction/conclusion:
a) Introduction – covers the scope of the module and offers a brief summary and overview.
b) Governmental and Institutional Power and Conflict - explores the following: scope of states’ capacity to assert power, and to drive and respond to conflict; the relationship between the individual and organisational power, and how people experience this power in their daily lives; the importance of law for framing power; growth of international organisations and jurisdictional tensions over power and conflict (e.g. EU and its member states; UN).
c) Social and Societal Power and Conflict: – explores the importance of social factors such as race, class, gender, disability, etc. in shaping power, and how conflicts emerge through contestations of the inequalities present in these formations.
d) Popular Cultural and Performative Power and Conflict - explores both how popular culture represents power and conflict but also how it can be an instrument of power; for example, subcultural music and comedy as a site of political resistance, or the use of performance practice to open up spaces for alternative voices. The states’ response to artistic critique will also be explored.
e) Personal and Interpersonal - explores the centrality of interpersonal relationships to understanding power and conflict. These can occur within the family and within organisations such as schools and work. The consequences of such relations for broader societal stability and volatility are also explored.
f) Theories of Power and Conflict – explores the main theories of power some of which explain why conflict will occur and others of which explore how and why conflict will be supressed.
Specific Learning Outcomes as Mapped to Assessment Tasks:
The module has five specific learning outcomes which are linked to the assessment as follows:

  • 1) Design and deliver a coherent presentation that applies thinking from one of the module’s core thematic areas to a case study, recognising and evaluating contesting interpretations of the events and issues, utilising appropriate visual aids.
  • 2) Demonstrate an ability to engage an audience through the use of an appropriate and interesting range of visual and textual information relating to the thematic area and a specific case study.
  • 3) Demonstrate an ability to make use of appropriate resources for the study of this module, such as the internet, quantitative and qualitative data, reports and academic sources and present them in an essay format.
  • 4) Demonstrate an understanding of key ideas and concepts of relevance to the particular subject.
  • 5) Be able to write clearly and logically so as to carry through a consistent argument.

The assessment is made up of the following:

  • 1. A prezi (or powerpoint) presentation, which will be presented in the seminar class to provide formative feedback, and submitted as a text only presentation for assessment (50% of module grade), covers learning outcomes 1 and 2.
  • 2. An essay of 1,500 words (50% of the module grade), addressing one of the thematic areas, and covering learning outcomes 3, 4 and 5.

Learning Outcomes

This module will provide you with an introduction to the ways in which different disciplines work with the ideas of power and conflict when engaging with issues and case studies from different parts of the world. Organised around five key themes, the module is designed to appeal to students from all backgrounds. The primary method of course delivery is digital, as such you will be responsible for your own progression through the course materials, which will be supported by face-to-face seminars to ensure you are progressing in line with the module timetable, and which will provide opportunities for discussion and feedback on your comprehension of and responses to the course material.
On completion of this module, you will have demonstrated your ability in the following areas:
• Understanding of the core concepts of power and conflict, from different disciplinary perspectives
• Oral and written expression of complex and nuanced ideas
• Analysis of primary and secondary sources in relation to the five themes
• Relating conceptual thinking to case study materials
• Research skills
• Participation in class discussions
• Self directed learning

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1 x 1500 words 50
Presentation Online Prezi (or similar presentation tool) 50
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100

Private Study

In collaboration with the module team, the digital learning team will produce the equivalent of 11 lectures worth of material, plus an additional 2 hours of directed material per week (22 hours). All of this will be accessed by students in their own time and will combine videos, reading tasks, small non-assessed reflective tasks etc. These will serve to introduce students to the material which is also provided on the accompanying reading list. The material is formal in that students will have their engagement with the material monitored to ensure completion.
Students will also be able to make use of the university online training in terms of designing prezis (or similar visual presentation tools) to be presented in class, and submitted as part of their assessment.

Progress Monitoring

Students will gain formative feedback through peer review on their presentations and, as noted above, be able to pick up tips and skills from observing other students’ presentations before submission. They will be able to submit essay plans or summaries prior to submission and will be offered feedback from the seminar tutor.
Students will also complete preparation questionnaires for each seminar in which they reflect on their reading and the online content and provide thinking in relation to the seminar questions. These sheets will be held online

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
On-line Learning 11 1 11
Seminar 11 1 11
Tutorial 1 1 1
Private Study Hours 177
Total Contact Hours 23
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
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