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Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding: Policy, Practice and Pragmatism


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


This course is an advanced introduction to UN peacekeeping which includes a mix of practical and theoretical knowledge. Students are introduced to the challenges of peacekeeping which include: implementing an unclear mandate, demonstrating impartiality, winning legitimacy; and promoting local ownership. Topics covered include: counter-terrorism, peace enforcement and robust peacekeeping; the protection of civilians (PoC); sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) & conflict related sexual violence (CRSV); and gender and peacekeeping. The success and failure of peace operations are assessed using different theoretical and methodological approaches. Case studies and guest speakers provide a practitioner perspective.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will have knowledge of:

  • Current trends in UN peacekeeping practice.

  • IR approaches to explaining success and failure in peacekeeping.

  • The different types of UN peace operations.

  • The key problems with UN peace operations.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, class discussion, self-study (including assignments).

Study load: 140 hours

Assessment method

Final grades are calculated based on three components:

  • Policy blog (20%)

  • Case Study (40%)

  • Essay (40%)

Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Brightspace.
You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

Partial grades will remain valid for one academic year. Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year. In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

Students can help prepare themselves for the course by consulting the following texts.

Optional Reading list:

Paul D. Williams and Alex J.Bellamy. Understanding Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2021.

MacQueen, Norrie. Peacekeeping and the International System. Abingdon: Routledge, 2006.

Autesserre, Severine. Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Autesserre, Severine. The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Cain, Kenneth, Postlewait, Heidi and Andrew Thomson. Emergency Sex (and other desperate measures): True Stories From a War Zone. London: Ebury Press, 2006.

Cunliffe, Philip. Legions of Peace: UN Peacekeepers from the Global South
London: Hurst, 2013.

Howard, Lise Morje. Power in Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Karim, Sabrina and Kyle Beardsley. Equal opportunity peacekeeping : women, peace, and security in post-conflict states. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Koops, Joachim Alexander, Norrie Macqueen, Thierry Tardy and Paul D. Williams. The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Newby, Vanessa. Peacekeeping in South Lebanon: Credibility and local cooperation. NY: Syracuse University Press, 2018.

Polman, Linda. We did nothing. Why the truth doesn’t always come out when the UN goes in. London: Penguin, 2013.

Pouligny, Beatrice. Peace Operations Seen from Below: UN Missions and Local People. London: Hurst, 2005.

More readings (journal articles and books) provided in the course outline.


The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Dr V. Newby


This course is an elective course designed for second year MIRD students.
This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course