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Core Course Global Conflict in the Modern Era


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track Global Conflict in the Modern Era, or track International Studies (for students of the February 2017 intake).


What are the patterns of war and peace in the modern world? Who uses violence, why and how? This core course aims to look at these issues from a multidisciplinary angle, incorporating history, political and social science and area expertise. It dissects these problems based on a thematic structure. First the course will introduce students to the core concepts and dominant approaches to the study of war, to subsequently move onto more recent and critical takes on these phenomena. We will discuss among others war, terrorism, insurgency and genocide as prevalent modes of violent expression. Are these phenomena driven by political considerations, as the father of the scientific study of war Carl von Clausewitz argued two hundred years ago; war as the continuation of politics by other means? Or are there other explanations for the use of violence, for example as a quest for ethnic dominance, control over resources or personal validation? The course will look at the theoretical and empirical explanations that have been offered by the academic scholarship, which will help us understand these patterns of war and peace.

Course objectives

The course aims to engage students with the scholarly debates about and the practical consequences of global conflict today and in the recent past and the security measures that have been instituted locally, regionally and globally.
The course consists of seminars where the instructors will introduce a theme and where there is subsequently ample room for exchange, debate and presentations from the students based on the required readings. Students will be asked to study both academic texts and other relevant primary and secondary sources. Firstly, students will expand their knowledge of the major theoretical approaches to the study of war and peace, with as a starting point a humanities centered angle. Secondly, students will debate and investigate key issues in global conflict and security, such as non-state actor violence in the shape of terrorism, insurgency, piracy, state-based violence in conventional war, deterrence and genocide. Thirdly, the solutions and termination of violence will receive attention by focusing on debates about humanitarian intervention, international law and the pacifying effect of institutions and cooperation.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes (attendance is mandatory)

  • 120 Hours of reading and class preparation (10 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 36 Hours to prepare for the presentations

  • 60 Hours to complete the critical review element

  • 40 Hours to complete the research essay
    Total: 280 Hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation: 20%

  • Critical Review: 35%

  • Research Essay: 45%
    The final essay will only be graded if the student has attended the seminars.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element, the research essay is insufficient.

Exam Review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Yes, course information will be accessible via Blackboard before the start of the course.

Reading list

The reading list and the course syllabus will be posted on Blackboard before the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Prof dr I. Duyvesteyn