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Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies




Admission Requirements



This course introduces the dynamics of conflict and peace and examines the causes of conflict. It emphasizes the changing nature of contemporary conflicts as well as the changing nature of international responses to them. It examines possibilities of violent conflict prevention, transforming conflict and international community’s engagement in post-conflict peacekeeping and peace-building activities – in order to reduce the risk of a resumption of conflict and contribute to processes of reconciliation, reconstruction and recovery. It is a concentrated course with huge number of case studies and concepts to absorb.

Course Objectives

General objective:
The course seeks to provide basic knowledge and understanding of peace and conflict studies in general, and develop conflict sensitivity and conflict mapping skills through huge number of case studies in particular. It seeks to offer students concepts and theories to analyse conflicts, develop and support arguments, and learn to structure and write essays in a multidisciplinary way. Students apply their knowledge and understanding to current issues, through acquired oral and written skills.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understand different key terms, methods and approaches in peace and conflict studies

  • Understand peace-building as a political process embracing security, political, social, economic and psycho-social dimensions

  • Show knowledge of the following topics: contemporary change of conflict nature and the international response to it; security vs. human security; prevention-peacemaking-peacebuilding

  • Apply analytically learned concepts and relevant literature in both review and argumentative essays.

Mode of Instruction

The course is taught through the two-hour seminars per week. Each seminar will include a one-hour lecture and one-hour class discussions of the readings and key aspects of the topic. The 3 formal readings and lectures are complemented by classroom discussions. Students are expected to participate actively and learn to articulate ideas and engage in discussion. The seminars also seek to clarify any outstanding questions from the readings or lectures. Students are required to do all the compulsory reading and are encouraged to explore recommended readings, but they should also feel free to complement these with readings of their choice. The compulsory and recommended readings will allow students to explore each topic in more depth and serve as stepping stone for the review essay and take-home exam essay. They will also offer an opportunity for students to contribute to class discussions and raise critical comments/questions.


Assessment: In-class participation; Oral presentations (short reviews of the readings) and raising critical questions; Applying concepts to case studies
Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Oral presentations: ongoing weeks 2-7 (Thursday classes: November 7, 14, 21, 28; December 5, 12); Schedule to be decided on the first class

Assessment: Take-home exam essays (two essays per 1000 words)
Learning aim: Understanding of the course content
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Weeks 3 and 6 (Saturdays: November 16 and December 7)

Assessment: Final review essay (2500 words exclusive bibliography, footnotes and diagrams)
Learning aim: Expression of holistic understanding of the course
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8 (Sat:December 21)


Compulsory and recommended readings for each seminar are listed in the course syllabus. Most of the literature will be available in electronic form at the course site on the blackboard.

Contact Information

Dr. Maja Vodopivec (course convener and instructor)

Weekly Overview

Week 1

  • What are peace and conflict studies? Different types of peace and violence. Causes of conflict: greed and grievance. Structural violence. Conflict transformation. Do-no-harm approach. Moving from negative to positive peace.

Week 2

  • Old and new wars. Changing nature of peace and conflict. Contemporary ethnic conflicts and international responses to humanitarian catastrophes, regional destabilization, organized crime and terrorism and its controversies.
    Case study: Former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq

Week 3

  • Overview of Peace-keeping operations (PKO) and Peace-building – definition and theory, history and the current state. The dimensions of prevention, peacemaking, peace building – challenges of Sector Security Reform (SSR).
    Case study: Cambodia, East Timor, Sri-Lanka, CAR, Somalia

Week 4

  • Peace-making: Conflict analysis and theories of conflict resolution. Conflict negotiation and role of mediation. Peace agreements. Leadership and organizational management. Teambuilding.
    Case study: Aceh, South Sudan, Kosovo

Week 5

  • Security vs. Human security. consolidation of peace: challenges of SSR/DDR, development assistance, governance.
    Case study: Haiti, Nepal

Week 6

  • Transitional justice and reconciliation. Levels of trust-building.
    Case study: Liberia, Siera Leone, Rwanda

Week 7

  • Concluding seminar: How to achieve a sustainable peace? Is a “grand” theory of peace possible? Democratization of history and transitional justice role in preventing conflict/achieving peace? The Transcend Method applied. Challenges in peace-building in Islamist led countries (post- Arab Spring).
    Case study: Palestine-Israel conflict, Tunisia, Egypt

Week 8

  • Reading week

Preparation for first session