Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

Conflict, Civil War and Mediation


Admission requirements

MSc International Relations and Diplomacy students.


In their most violent form, (international) conflicts represent the costliest type of social interaction. This seminar-based course will focus on such conflicts, and familiarise students with a range of methods for their analysis and management. In the first part of this course students will observe and scrutinise conflicts along a continuum ranging from stable and durable peace to outright war, with numerous intermediate types of interactions that mirror conditions of unstable or conditional peace, crisis, and fragile transitional post-conflict environments where the threat of the re-emergence of violence remains and where the road to stable peace seems long and difficult. Each juncture requires a tailor-made conflict management activity, undertaken by the parties to the conflict themselves or assisted by outside parties. The selection of an appropriate method of conflict management is of fundamental importance whether a conflict will de-escalate into stable peace or will preserve potential to relapse into violence once again.

This seminar seeks to explore a range of factors pertinent to any conflict analysis and management:

  • Various theories that explain root causes and trigger mechanisms that lead to an escalation of violence.

  • Methods used to end or contain violent conflict, de-escalate tensions, maintain and enforce “negative” peace (i.e., the absence of war) while trying to build sustainable, “positive” peace where the expectation of settling conflicts through the use of violence essentially disappears altogether. The focus will be on matching methods of conflict management to the characteristics of conflict being analysed, such as the substance of the underlying issues, the nature of the parties, and the various stages of the conflict. This approach assumes that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ conflict management theory or approach that can be indiscriminately applied across all time, space, and issues.

Course objectives

Students should emerge from this seminar with an advanced set of tools to analyse conflicts, especially those that have a clear potential to escalate into various forms of violence. At the same time, students will learn how to select for the most effective responses aimed at managing conflicts so that the probability and intensity of violence is minimised, while the potential to build enduring peace is maximised.


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

The course is seminar-based. The students are expected to participate actively in structured discussions on assigned readings for each class.

Study load: 140 hours

Assessment method

The final mark for this course is based on three equal components:

  • two essays, each counting for 33.33% of the grade

  • a resit of the essays is only possible if the student has failed the assignments and a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50.

  • the resit will take place 6th of June 2022.  

  • class participation based on Brightspace assignments, counting for 33.34% of the grade

  • failed grades must be compensated, resit is not possible

Students are required to prepare the readings and actively participate in each course. For each class students will give a 15-20 minutes presentation on the assigned topic for that day, which will be followed by a group discussion.
Students are also required to write two essays on assigned topics: In the first essay students will have to analyse a conflict of their choosing. The analysis should follow the structure present in the literature which will be discussed in class. In general the analysis should: indicate the root causes of conflict, illustrate the conflict cycle and show if the conflict was treated by any preventive conflict management activity. Word limit: 2000 words. In the second essay students will have to analyse a conflict management activity of their choosing. The analysis should focus either on the processes of peace negotiations (and/or mediation) or of post-conflict peace-building.
The papers will be evaluated according to how well students are able to apply concepts and principles covered in class to their chosen case. Students are encouraged to include a critique of the selected strategies in terms of theories presented in this course, indicating ways in which the conflict might have been more effectively managed, had the parties chosen more wisely from among the available approaches. Word limit: 3500 words.

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

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.

Reading list

Assigned readings for the course will be announced in the beginning of the seminar.


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


Dr. S. Vukovic s.vukovic@fgga.leidenuniv.nl

Ms. A. Blessing a.blessing@fgga.leidenuniv.nl