MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Peace and Social Agency, Security and Intervention: Theories and Practices

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI70991
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? No


In the light of the recent collapse and long-term stagnation of peace processes worldwide, this module investigates blockages to peace at the domestic and international level. For this purpose, the module concentrates on the key theoretical and conceptual constructs that can help us understand peace-related interventions (e.g. peacebuilding, peacekeeping, mediation in peace negotiations) and local peace agency in their wider geopolitical as well as structural context. The module will introduce students to key concepts and embed them in wider International Relations theory, placing emphasis on the critical exploration of ideas and structures. In keeping with the critical ethos that is associated with Peace and Conflict Studies in Manchester, strong emphasis will be placed on issues of power, agency and bottom-up approaches to peace. In this course, we will focus on both, the agency that people and communities have in building peace, and on questioning the peace that is rolled out for them as part of international intervention in their various forms. Different types of interventions will be critically discussed to highlight their limitations and the power relations that characterise them.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able:

  • interrogate key concepts and theories in peace and conflict studies.
  • consider the nature of power and agency in relation to peace, conflict and resistance.
  • analyse the key blockages to peace as well as linkages between them.
  • engage critically with relevant literature and important thinkers in Peace and Conflict Studies.
  • comprehend the shortcomings and political implications of external interventions (e.g. peacekeeping, peace mediation, peacebuilding).
  • consider the tensions and complementarities between bottom-up and top-down approaches to building peace.
  • understand how the thinking in Peace and Conflict Studies has changed throughout its different generations.
  • use the theoretical and conceptual knowledge acquired in this module as a foundation for the semester 2 core module that will look at research methodologies and case studies.
  • demonstrate improved teamwork, writing, presentation and research skills.

    Teaching and learning methods

    The module will be delivered in ten two-hour blocks of teaching. In the first three seminars, the convener will introduce the underlying driving forces and revolutionary dynamics. As of week 4, students will be involved in the dissemination of knowledge through group presentations.


    Assessment methods

    Method Weight
    Other 15%
    Written assignment (inc essay) 85%

    Assessment activity

    Length required

    Weighting within unit




    Reflective piece



    Group Presentation

    20 min



    Recommended reading

    A detailed weekly reading schedule is laid out in the handbook. The following are general texts that should give you an idea of the scope of the field:


      • Richmond, OP and G. Visoka (2021) Peacebuilding, Statebuilding and Peace Formation (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
      • Rambotham, O., T. Woodhouse and H. Miall (2016) Contemporary Conflict Resolution (London: Polity).
      • Richmond, R., Pogodda, S. and J. Ramovic (2016) The Palgrave Handbook of Disciplinary and Regional Approaches to Peace (Houndmills: Palgrave)
      • Shepherd, Laura J (2017) Gender, UN Peacebuilding and the Politics of Space: Locating Legitimacy (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
      • UN (2016) Resolution 70/262. Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture (New York: United Nations).


    Study hours

    Scheduled activity hours
    Seminars 20
    Independent study hours
    Independent study 130

    Teaching staff

    Staff member Role
    Sandra Pogodda Unit coordinator

    Additional notes



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