17.S950 | Fall 2016 | Graduate

Social Science and the Iraq and Syrian Wars


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: One session/week, 2 hours/session


There are no prerequisites for this course, but permission of the instructor is required.

Course Description

The wars in Iraq and Syria have changed the course of international relations in the 21st century. During these conflicts, hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been displaced. After 13 years, these conflicts continue with no end in sight.

The central question of this class is the following: How do political science theories and methods help us understand the course of these wars? The class goes about answering this question by integrating three elements: theory, data/description, and application of theory to data/description. Accordingly, the syllabus and individual classes are arranged to achieve this integration.

The class depends upon student participation and discussion. A primary aim of the course is to bolster students’ skills in using various social science methods to explain important variation in violent conflict.


All students start the course with 1 point.

In-class participation 25 points
Analyses (3) 24 points
Final Paper 50 points