BASS Social Anthropology and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Dimensions of Peace and Conflict: Disciplinary and Regional Approaches

Unit code POLI30262
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit introduces students to the inter-disciplinary field of peace and conflict studies, and the range of practices that have developed to make peace in different parts of the world. These include international peacekeeping, mediation, peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and peace formation, among others. In particular, the unit sets such practices in the context of the key political science and international relations’ dynamics of power, international and state design, rights, resistance, and socio-political agency. It does so in the context of inter-disciplinary, multi-methodological, approaches, as well as a wide range of empirical case studies. The course outlines insights from a range of disciplines (social psychology, economy, anthropology, philosophy, sociology and geography) and places them in the context of insights from different conflict-affected regions around the world where various methods associated with peace processes have been applied.  

  • The unit considers the origin and aims of peace and conflict studies and its key concepts such as peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peace formation, local, hybrid peace, everyday peace. 
  • It places these concepts into the context of the main theories of IR and political science, and also considers the contributions of other disciplines.
  • It broadens conceptualizations of peace by engaging systematically with the postcolonial and decolonial thought in security studies, and by examining a global section of case studies through which to interrogate the application of the above theories and related methods. 
  • It develops students’ critical and analytical skills, written skills (through assessed written essays), research skills (the use of material from different disciplines), and students’ oral skills (through class discussions and presentations). 
  • It provides a strong foundation for students who aim to progress towards a more specialized MA programme in peace and conflict studies.

Note: This unit complements the material covered in other modules (e.g. POLI20332 The Politics of (In)security, POLI30892 War and Genocide in the 20th century, and POLI30792 Gender, War and Militarism), by adding a perspective of peace and conflict studies, particularly by offering insights from a range of other disciplines and approaches to these issues in different parts of the world. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module the students will be able to demonstrate:

  • An advanced level of understanding of the key concepts and theories, as well as debates in peace and conflict studies.
  • The ability to critically analyse various conflicts, as well as peace operations in different settings through engagement with different case studies. 
  • The ability to analyse the interfaces of peace and conflict studies from the perspective of different disciplines and regions. 
  • An understanding of the conditions which have led to the prevailing ‘liberal peace’ approach in peacebuilding operations.
  • The ability to critically analyse sources and to work independently to identify additional reading material. 
  • The ability to synthesise information to construct a logical argument. 
  • Advanced skills in research and the ability to communicate ideas orally and in writing


Brief overview of the syllabus/topics.

1.    Introduction: What is peace? How to analyse peace and conflict? 
2.    Key concepts and theories in peace and conflict studies: Conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peacebuilding, statebuilding, peace formation
3.    Key concepts and theories in peace and conflict studies: Liberal peace, Local, Hybridity, Everyday peace
4.    Interdisciplinary approaches to peace: International relations
5.    Interdisciplinary approaches to peace: Philosophy, Sociology, Economy
6.    Interdisciplinary approaches to Peace: Anthropology, Geography, Social psychology
7.    Analysis of case studies: Timor Leste, Colombia, Somalia
8.    Analysis of case studies: Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Northern Ireland
9.    Analysis of case studies: South Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon
10.    Peace in the 21st century: Challenges, blockages, prospects

Teaching and learning methods

The module will consist of two-hour blocks of teaching and one-hour tutorials in each of the ten weeks of the semester. Over the first six weeks, module conveners will introduce students to the key concepts and theories from the field of peace studies, and their interface with different disciplines. From week seven to week nine, students will organise group seminars (based on their presentations), with each group analysing one of the case studies, thereby taking lead in knowledge dissemination. 


1.    Critical reflection (1,750 words - 25% of overall mark)
Students are expected to critically reflect on one the key documents of the UN which shaped peacebuilding interventions in the last three decades. This formative task will serve as an opportunity for students to engage with debates in peace and conflict studies (covered in weeks 2-3), and to receive feedback on their written work prior to the final assignment. 

2.    Group presentation (15% of overall mark)
Students are expected to give a 20-minute presentation (in groups of up to four students) on a case study which should be analysed through the lens of at least two disciplines. Students will be marked based on the depth of engagement with the materials covered in the class and their application in the case study covered by the group. Additionally, their ability to communicate concisely their analysis and findings, along with the coherent work of the group, will also be marked. Students are expected to prepare a power-point presentation and a one-page handout summarizing the key points from the presentation. 

3.    Critical essay (4,000 words - 60% of overall mark)
Three essay questions will be given as options to be covered for this assignment. Students will also have an option to cover a topic of their own choice, in consultation with the conveners. Essays should demonstrate sound knowledge of the material covered in the class, critical thinking, development of a coherent and logical argument, strong and nuanced analysis. 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 15%

Critical Reflection

Recommended reading

Core readings:

Richmond, O., Pogodda, S., Ramovic, J. (2016) The Palgrave Handbook on Disciplinary and Regional Approaches to Peace, Palgrave Macmillan.

Richmond, O., and Visoka G., The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies (Palgrave, )

Ramsbotham, O., Miall, H., and T. Woodhouse eds., (2016) Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Polity.


Introductory readings:

Lederach, J.P. (2010) The Moral Imagination: The art and soul of building peace, Oxford University Press.

Fontan, V. (2012) Decolonizing Peace, Dignity Press.

Richmond, O.P. and Pogodda, S. (2016) Post-Liberal Peace Transitions: Between Peace Formation and State Formation, Edinburgh University Press.

Rutazibwa, O. and Shilliom, R. (2018) Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, Routledge.

Pugh, M., Cooper, N. and Turner, M. (2008) Whose Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Political Economy of Peacebuilding, Palgrave Macmillan.

Lee, S. (2018). Local Ownership in Asian Peacebuilding: Development of Local Peacebuilding Models. Springer.

Mac Ginty, R. (2014) Routledge Handbook on Peacebuilding, Routledge.

Scheduled activity hours Lectures 20 Tutorials 10

Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sandra Pogodda Unit coordinator

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