nl en

Peace Studies: History, Theories and Concepts


Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘War and Peace Studies’, can take this course.


This course is an advanced introduction to the history, core concepts and scholarly debates related to the academic field of peace studies. You will learn about the different dimensions of peace, as well as the core factors that play a role in its promotion, leading to an understanding of how peace can be sustained in an ever more complex world. You will study reflections on the concept of peace and its various dimensions as analysed by core peace thinkers and you will examine how peace is conceived of by multiple policy actors in practice. You will interrogate the different approaches to understanding peace, from a variety of theoretical and geographical perspectives. Key emerging topics in the promotion of peace will be discussed including: climate change, terrorism, intelligence, development and disaster response, R2P, the protection of civilians (PoC), peace and technology, the global arms trade, mediation and conflict prevention, sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), conflict related sexual violence (CRSV), accountability and gender in peacekeeping. In this course both UN and non-UN approaches to the maintenance of international peace and security will be analysed and discussed. Finally you will obtain a thorough understanding of the different theoretical perspectives and quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches to analysing data on peace.

In this course, we will focus on critically reviewing existing knowledge. This means that you will learn how to develop an advanced critical analysis by interrogating key texts, deploying independent judgment, and presenting this knowledge both orally and in writing at a level appropriate for a Master’s student. This course is taught in a highly interactive fashion, and you will work individually and in groups.

Course objectives

By the end of this course students will be able to:

Academic skills
1. Understand the accomplishments and shortcomings of the academic study of peace in terms of topical focus, methodological and conceptual approaches, and real-world impact;
2. Identify new and long-standing topics within peace studies;
3. Critically assess the degree to which research on peace is able to provide answers to practical issues surrounding the promotion of peace;
4. Identify and engage with the main methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches taken in the study of peace;

Research skills
6. Critically evaluate, based on advanced academic knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, existing research in peace studies, from a conceptual, theoretical and methodological viewpoint.

Professional skills
7. Transfer these academic insights into a professional context through the use of real-world case studies
8. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments
9. Present arguments and analyses in a format appropriate for both an academic and broader professional audience
10. Collaborate in a team on a collective project in-class.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, class discussion, in-class group activities, self-study (including assignments).
Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss more than one lecture if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

Total study load: 280 hours
Contact hours: 42 hours
Self-study hours (reading, preparing lectures, assignments, reflection, etc.): 238 hours

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection paper as preparation for the final reflection paper. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Assessment method

Final grades are calculated based on three components:

  • Assignment 1: Blog post on non-western perspectives of peace (20%)

  • Assignment 2: Small Assignment (20%)

  • Assignment 3: Final Paper (60%)

Additional, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Brightspace. You can find more information about assessments on the website.
Grading: Failed partial grades weighing less than or 30% can be compensated with other partial grades. The calculated overall grade must be at least 5.5 in order to pass the course. If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 50% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.5.

Resit: Students are only permitted to resit assignment 3 (60%).

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, will be provided in the course outline on Brightspace.


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 14 December 13.00h.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


Professor Joachim Koops
Dr. Vanessa Newby


Please check the Brightspace page regularly as due to the COVID-19 changes to the course might occur on short notice.