BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Knowledge Production in Peace-building: Practices and Processes

Unit code POLI31082
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


International interventions in post-conflict contexts have only increased since 1945. All of these interventions that seek to build peace depend upon the establishment of a shared understanding between local and international actors about why the conflict happened, what the post-conflict problems are, and the social, political and cultural problems that need to be resolved. That is, peacebuilding depends on the knowledge that actors involved have. This module focusses on how this knowledge is produced, which knowledge counts, and the power relations underpinning the production and use of this knowledge in the specific field of international peacebuilding. In the first half of the module, students will develop an understanding of the key concepts and approaches within critical peacebuilding. In the second half of the module, students will tackle real-life peacebuilding problems to critically reflect on the processes and effects of knowledge production in international peacebuilding

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

•       Identify, describe and account for the role of power in processes of knowledge production.

•       Critically reflect on the effects of knowledge upon the practice of peacebuilding.

•       Demonstrate empirical awareness about a wide range of contemporary peacebuilding contexts.

•       Work in a team to develop solutions to problems, and to critically reflect on the process by which these problems were addressed.

•       Demonstrate an understanding of a wide range of approaches relevant to international peacebuilding interventions.

•       Demonstrate cognitive and communicative skills; the ability to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form; the ability to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement.

Teaching and learning methods

One three-hour workshop of no more than 24 students per group. The first half of the course will operate close to the conventional tutorial set-up for many third year courses - mini lectures, student activities and presentations. These initial weeks cover many of the frameworks and concepts used within critical peacebuilding, and are intended to encourage students to start thinking about what might shape the ways in which we "know" about a post-conflict context

To consider the processes and practices of knowledge production in a deeper and more reflective manner, workshops during Part Two of the course will focus on case studies. This is what we call inductive learning and reasoning, which means that you develop understanding through dealing with practical problems. You will be asked to role-play the various parts of the actors involved in the case. Each week will begin with a lecture about the broader issue, and then students will be provided with a (real) problem faced by international practitioners in peacebuilding contexts. Students will be asked to work in groups to prepare (from the positon of your role-play) a response to the problem. Groups will need to negotiate with each other to agree on a solution. The workshop will end with some reflection on the various knowledges that shaped outcomes, using the themes that covered in Part One.

The Blackboard site for the course will contain relevant links to further sources and websites. Relevant seminar material will also be posted on the site.

Assessment methods


Essay: 60 % (4000 words)

Portfolio 40% across three submissions:

Portfolio 1 = 20% (1300 words)

Portfolio 2 = 10% (650 words)

Portfolio 3 = 10% (650 words)



Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission.
Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.
For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results.
You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor
On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

  • •       Jabri, V. 2013. ‘Peacebuilding, the local and the international: a colonial or a postcolonial rationality?’ Peacebuilding 1.1: 3-6.

    •       Holt, S. 2013. ‘The limits of Formal Metrics during conflict and Post-conflict Transition: Exploring Opportunities for Qualitative Assessment in Sri Lanka’ Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 7.4: 431-452

    •       Mac Ginty, R. 2013. ‘The Transcripts of Peace: Public, Hidden or Non-obvious?’ Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 7. 4: 423-30.

    •       Hudson, N. F. and Goetz, A. M. 2014. ‘Too Much That Can’t Be Said’ International Feminist Journal of Politics 16.2: 336-46.

    •       McLeod, l. 2011. ‘Configurations of Post-conflict: Impacts of Representations of Conflict and Post-conflict upon the (Political) Translations of Gender Security within UNSCR 1325’ International Feminist Journal of Politics 13.4: 594-611.

    •       Zalewski, M. 2006. ‘Intervening in Northern Ireland: Critically re-thinking representations of the Conflict’ Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 9.4: 479-97.

    •       Richmond, O. P. 2011.’De-romanticising the local, de-mystifying the international: Hybridity in Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands’ The Pacific Review 24:.1: 115-36.

    •       Mac Ginty, R. 2010. ‘Hybrid Peace: The Interaction Between Top-down and Bottom-Up Peace’ Security Dialogue 41. 4: 391-412.

    •       Merlington, M and Ostrauskaite, R. 2005. ‘Power-Knowledge in International Peacebuilding: The Case of the EU Peace Mission in Bosnia’ Alternatives 30. 30: 297-34.

    •       Foucalt, M. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge.

    •       Halperin, E. 2016. Emotions in conflict: Inhibitors and Facilitators of Peace Making. Routlege: London.

    •       Visoka, G. 2016. Peace figuration after International Intervention. Routledge: London.

    •       Hintjens, H. and Zarkov, D. (eds) 2015. Conflict, Peace, Security and Development: Theories and Methodologies. Routledge: London.

    •       Aggestam, K. and Bjorkdahl. (eds) 2014. Rethinking Peacebuilding. Routledge, London.

    •       Chandler, D. 2010. ‘Race, Culture and Civil Society: Peacebuilding Discourse and the Understanding of Difference’ Security Dialogue 41.4: 369-91.

    •       Bliesemann DeGuevara, B.,Kühn, F.P.2015.On Afghan footbaths and sacred cows in Kosovo: urban legends of intervention. Peacebuilding3(1) pp. 17-35.

    •       Bliesemann DeGuevara, B.2014.On methodology and myths:Exploring the International Crisis Group’s organisational culture.Third World Qua

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Laura Mcleod Unit coordinator

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