MSc International Disaster Management

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
The Politics of International Intervention, Conflict, and Peace

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60611
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course will critically explore the politics of international intervention, conflict and peace. Students will interrogate international intervention as a technology of global governance, and analyse the ideas and policy developments underpinning and driving it as relates to conflict and peace. The module will also explore how communities experience and deal with different forms of intervention, and how their political and economic priorities diverge from those of the interveners. This exploration will be achieved through a critical analyses of theoretical and thematic issues, and in-depth empirical case studies. There will be a particular emphasis on historical sociology, political economy, and decolonial approaches. Among the topics covered are: understandings of “peace”, the sovereignty/intervention paradox; military intervention and peacekeeping; the political economy of peacebuilding; peace processes, post-conflict statebuilding and elite bargains; war economies; and international aid.


The aims of this course are to:

1. Explore and apply geo-political and historical perspectives in order to better understand the place of humanitarian action in armed conflict.

2. Examine the ways in which armed groups shape humanitarian practice.

3. Critically engage and analyse both historical and contemporary humanitarian responses in situations of armed conflict.

4. Enhance students’ understanding of and ability to contribute to debates on humanitarian action in conflicts, through the development of analytical and presentation skills.


Please note the outline below is indicative only:

1. Key concepts

2. War, law, and history

3. Terrorism and humanitarian action

4. Rwanda and its legacies

5. Instrumentalisation and militarisation

6. Humanitarian negotiations: part 1

7. Humanitarian negotiations: part 2

8. Humanitarian action in violent urban settings

9. Security and access

10. Essay writing workshop

Teaching and learning methods

The supplementary methods used in the provision of teaching and learning on this course unit should be identified here.

This is additional to that identified by the Scheduled Activity Hours and Assessment Methods fields.

It is a University requirement that all course units must conform to Blackboard minimum requirements. These can be found at:

General information can be found on the Faculty of Humanities e-learning web pages:

Descriptors should confirm that the course unit will provide information to at least Blackboard minimum requirements and, where relevant, provide further information on the use of Blackboard within the course unit.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

1. Debates about the place of armed groups in relation to humanitarian action

2. Issues shaping humanitarian responses in urban settings and ‘other situations of violence’

3. How security and development concerns influence humanitarian practice in situations of armed conflict.

4. A historical perspective on the above debates and issues, as well as key relevant episodes in contemporary history


Intellectual skills

1. Identify and evaluate different perspectives on humanitarian action in conflict settings (e.g. beneficiaries, NGOs, UN agencies, armed groups, governments, diaspora networks, law, etc.).

2. Critically analyse debates about humanitarian operations in these settings

3. Investigate and analyse historical and contemporary humanitarian crises featuring armed groups

4. Consider the impact of a historical perspective on understandings of humanitarianism and/or conflict analysis

5. Critically analyse the ways in which the core principles of humanitarian practice have been shaped by armed conflict


Practical skills

1. Research skills, including planning, prioritisation of tasks, identification and location of primary and secondary sources, evaluation of findings.

2. Essay-writing skills related to the analysis of a specific question, construction of arguments, assessment and deployment of evidence, writing style.

3. Applied analytical skills, built through an understanding of both academic and operational questions about humanitarian practice in situations of armed conflict.

4. Participation in seminar discussion and presentations in order to aid the research, analysis and presentation skills.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

1. Students will have the opportunity to develop interpretation and argumentation skills, both written and oral form, through assessed coursework and seminar presentations.

2. Students will develop research and project management skills throughout the course.

3. The course will foster an ability to move between different disciplinary approaches, promoting flexibility and adaptable working methods.


Employability skills

Details should be listed of the employability skills which a student can expect to gain from successfully taking this course unit. For guidance on embedding employability in curricula, and on ILOs, see:

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Essay plan 0%
Primary Source Anaysis 30%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Written feedback on essay plan


Written feedback on essay


Verbal feedback on 1-1 meetings with students (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)



Recommended reading

Bhatia, Michael V. ‘Fighting Words: Naming Terrorists, Bandits, Rebels and Other Violent Actors’, Third World Quarterly 26:1 (2005): 5-22.

Klose, Fabian. ‘The Colonial Testing Ground: The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Violent End of Empire’, Humanity 2:1 (2011): 107-26.

Lischer, Sarah Kenyon. ‘Collateral Damage: Humanitarian Assistance as a Cause of Conflict’, International Security 28:1 (2003): 79-109.

Magone, Claire, Michaël Neuman, and Fabrice Weissman (eds). Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (London, Hurst: 2011).

Perret, Françoise and François Bugnion. ‘Between Insurgents and Government: The International Committee of the Red Cross’s Action in the Algerian War (1954–1962)’, International Review of the Red Cross 93:883 (2011): 707-42.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amanda Mccorkindale Unit coordinator

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