Gender and Armed Conflict

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

War narratives and studies of political violence have traditionally focused on the roles and actions of men. Women, to the extent they are considered, have typically been framed as innocent bystanders and victims. Yet, women often actively participate in civil wars and in terrorist campaigns, either as civilian supporters of these groups or as armed fighters.

Women are therefore both willing to and capable of engaging in the same violent actions as their male counterparts during wartime. Intriguingly, there is also evidence that the inclusion of women in political processes--particularly in positions of authority--may help promote peace, resolve political conflicts, and increase stability after armed conflict.

In addition to acknowledging the profound impact that civil conflicts have on women (including sexual violence and displacement), this course explores the many important roles that women often play in terrorist and rebel organizations and examines women's potential contributions to post-war peace building and conflict resolution.

The objective of the course is that students gain a better understanding of the roles women play in the production and resolution of political violence and the manner in which gender and gender attitudes influence war and armed conflict.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

1. To introduce students to alternative theoretical lenses—such as feminist and critical gender perspectives—in contemporary security and conflict studies.

2. To engage with a wide range of applied empirical material relating to the role of women in armed conflict, including in-depth case analyses and quantitative datasets measuring women’s participation in armed conflict or other phenomena related to gender and armed conflict (e.g., data on sexual violence or women’s representation).

3. To evaluate contemporary conflicts and security policies using the theoretical lenses and empirical material introduced in the module through classroom discussion investigative research beyond the classroom.

4. To develop research, analytical, and presentation skills through a formal research paper that includes systematic qualitative or quantitative analysis of a question related to the course themes and materials and presenting the findings in a colloquia format.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able:

1. Identify and describe the history of women’s participation in the national militaries of the US, European states, and other countries.

2. Identify and describe the various roles that women play in historical and contemporary armed resistance movements.

3. Identify and explain the various sources of the gendered nature of recruitment and participation in armed groups.

4. Discuss the use and implications of gendered imagery during armed conflict and evaluate the effectiveness of such imagery as a propaganda tool.

5. Compare, evaluate, and critique different theoretical perspectives on the influence of gender on armed conflict prevalence, resolution, and dynamics.

6. Evaluate the affects and potential externalities associated with efforts to increase women’s participation in conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and post-conflict governance.

7. Synthesize relevant information from the module (as well as external sources), critique existing arguments regarding a topic related to the course themes, and apply arguments and empirical materials from the course to a question through an independent research paper.

Module information

Week 1: Research and Analysis on Gender and Conflict (discussion of positivist versus post-positivist approaches to the study of gender and politics)

Week 2: Women in State Armed Forces and National Militaries

Week 3: Female Combatants in Counter-insurgency Operations

Week 4: Women in Armed Resistance Movements

Week 5: Gendered Recruitment and its Implications

Week 6: Gendered Symbolism and Imagery in Wartime

Week 7: Women as Victims and Perpetrators of Atrocity

Week 8: Women, Gender and Peacekeeping

Week 9: Women in Post-conflict Politics and Society

Week 10: Conclusion, Review, and Reflections

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught in a weekly 2-hour seminar. Seminars are composed of two principal components. The first is intense in-class discussion of the assigned reading material intended to review, evaluate, and critique the central theories and empirical material presented that week. The second component is focused on the development of an independent research paper. This component will entail activities such as guided research in the classroom or in the library, in-class writing workshops, and formal presentations of their research experience and the findings from their research.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Test 1    20% 
Coursework   Research Presentation    25% 
Coursework   Test 2    20% 
Coursework   Research paper    35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Reed Wood, email: reed.wood@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Reed Wood
Dr Reed Wood reed.wood@essex.ac.uk Administrator Jamie Seakens govpgquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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