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Conflict Resolution and Settlement




Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 200-level and 300-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


Conflict resolution emerged as a distinct field of study in the shadow of Cold War. Its pioneers sought to integrate the insights they brought from a variety of disciplines to understand the sources and dynamics of human conflict, at both domestic and international levels, in order to overcome it. While the threat of human extinction through a catastrophic nuclear exchange may have receded as relations between the superpowers improved, the complexity of civil and international conflict has, if anything, increased over the past twenty years, with divisions increasingly animated by ethnic and religious symbols as well as by material interest and ideological difference. Against this background, it is important to examine how the theories and practices of conflict resolution can be applied to contemporary confrontations, and ask how far the nature of these conflicts demands the revision of inherited tools and approaches.

The course focuses specifically on the management and resolution of armed conflict in the twenty-first century. It aims to provide students with the tools to think critically about a range of questions presented by contemporary conflict, including: What instruments and mechanisms are there for bringing armed conflict to an end, and what obstacles are there to conflict termination? How do identity- and interest-based conflict resolution methods differ? What role can international arbitration and mediation play? How do negotiations between conflicting states differ from those involving non-state actors? Should we talk to terrorists? How can the inclusion and exclusion of different actors affect the duration of war and the outcome of negotiations? What makes for a durable settlement? How can we determine the success of conflict resolution and settlement?

Students will explore these key theoretical and practical questions through attention to case studies including Sudan, Uganda and Sierra Leone. The course will encourage critical thinking about the dominant conflict resolution frameworks, and their application to contemporary conflict.

Course Objectives

This module aims to provide a critical exploration of key issues and challenges related to the settlement of armed conflict. The primary focus of this module is on conflict resolution in the post-Cold War period. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the complex issues and dynamics to be reckoned with in the resolution of contemporary armed conflict.

  • Display knowledge of contemporary conflict resolution models and concepts, and the
    ability to apply them to case studies.

    *Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills; develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts and approaches and lead class discussions. ### Mode of Instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions, and present and defend their ideas within an academic setting. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for shaping its direction. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar. Students are also recommended to read some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ prior to each seminar and use the extended list as a starting point in their preparation for essay writing.


To be confirmed in course syllabus:

Interactive engagement with course material will be assessed through seminar participation (20% of final grade). Ongoing, weeks 1 – 7.

Understanding of course content will be assessed through individual presentations (20% of final grade). Weeks 3-7.

Individual engagement with course readings: assessed through a short discussion paper that provides the basis for the individual presentation (2,000 words; 20% of final grade): Weeks 3-7.

Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through individual research project (3,000 words; 40% of final grade): due Week 8.


Readings will be drawn from a variety of sources and provided on Blackboard. The following books are recommended general works that cover many of the major themes explored on the course:

Bercovitch, Jacob and Richard Jackson, Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-First Century: Principles, Methods, Approaches (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009).

Ramsbotham, Oliver, Tom Woodhouse and Hugh Miall, Contemporary Conflict Resolution, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011).

Wallensteen, Peter, Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the International System, 3rd ed. (London: Sage, 2011).

Contact Information

Dr. Edmund Frettingham:

Weekly Overview

  • Introduction to Conflict Resolution

  • No Seminar

  • Practice and Theory of Conflict Resolution

  • Conflict Resolution and Its Critics

  • Conflict Management: Intervention, Military Means and Contexts

  • How Armed Conflicts End

  • Religion and Culture in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

  • Identity-based Ethnic Conflict

  • Rebel Groups and Civil War Termination

  • Negotiation with Terrorists

  • Getting Armed Groups to the Table

  • Multiparty Mediation

  • Arbitration and International Border Conflict Resolution

  • Settlements and the Duration of Peace

Preparation for first session

No specific preparation required.