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Applied Issues in Peace Studies


Admission requirements

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


In the course Applied issues in Peace Studies, we will apply the theories and concepts taught in the previous course to real-life cases of peacebuilding and peacemaking through a combination of exercises and a wide range of debates. You will gain a better understanding of why promoting and sustaining peace can be so incredibly difficult, but also find out what we can learn from successful examples of peace promotion. This course is about the practice of promoting peace by a variety of actors, including the UN, regional organisations, national governments, and non-governmental actors. Through a set of case studies, we will put the spotlight on a set of challenges that these actors encounter, such as negotiating peace, building sustainable peace, protecting civilians, and preventing atrocities. This also relates to the obstacles that societies encounter when transitioning from a state of war to a state of peace. Finally, we will pay attention to the future of peace studies and how new developments may improve or dampen the prospects of peace promotion.

Central to this course will be the research skill of data collection. You will enhance your understanding of the challenges of peacebuilding by collecting data on historical trends in peace, its determinants, and its complexity. You will learn how to identify relevant bodies of data, develop appropriate indicators, and collate this material in a structured way. You will also reflect on the relative limits and ethics of the data collected and consider how these aspects can influence analysis of peace. This means that you will get practical experience in coding and managing data and developing and implementing different data collection strategies – and how this enables you to answer pressing questions existing in academia and the policy world. You will combine this with appropriate knowledge of how to draw sound inferences from raw data and communicate these in formats that appeal to professional audiences. These are transferrable skills that you will be able to use in professional contexts as well.

This course is taught in a highly interactive fashion, and you will be challenged to develop this research skill by applying it extensively, both individually and in groups.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

Academic skills
1. define and analyse problems and challenges in the field of peace studies
2. apply relevant theories and concepts in peace studies to real-life cases
3. discuss the main challenges and opportunities that relevant stakeholders in the field of peace studies are confronted with in a multi-actor and multi-level context
4. assess the interaction between the theory and practice of peace promotion
5. understand the challenges of functioning in a complex academic or professional environment in a research, advisory or executive position such as in international organisations, NGOs, governments, or local conflict resolution mechanisms that play an important role in peace promotion;

Research skills
6. identify types of data collection techniques and factors that may affect the choice of data collection.
7. reflect on the relative limits and ethics of data collection
8. analyse data by identifying empirical patterns and different conceptions of peace and linking these back to academic concepts and theories
9. design a (small) research project; ask a relevant research question and choose accordingly the appropriate design and method
10. perform data collection in a rigorous way, using selected research methods and reflecting on the validity and reliability of the data.

Professional skills
11. transfer academic insights into a professional context through the use of real-world case studies
12. self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments
13. present arguments and analyses in a format appropriate for both an academic and broader professional audience


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

A combination of interactive lectures and activating workgroups (two sessions per week). In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research, and the relevant concepts and methodologies. In the workgroups, students will practise research design and methods by applying the concepts, testing theories, and analysing empirical material. The workgroups will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several compulsory formative (non-graded) assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) 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

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

1. Group assignment (25%). Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.5), resit not possible.
2. Individual assignment testing research skill (25%). Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.5), resit not possible.
3. Individual essay (50%). Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course, resit possible.

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

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 (50%).

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced 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.


Dr. Tom Buitelaar


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