module specification

GI5008 - Peace and Conflict in Theory and Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Peace and Conflict in Theory and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Course Essay (2000 words)
Coursework 50%   Briefing Paper (2500 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

This module examines theories of peace and conflict, and explores the key debates and works of the leading authors on these subjects. It relates these theories to the dynamics of conflict in the contemporary world, with an emphasis on institutions and organisations working for peace and environmental protection. It analyses the objectives and methods of particular organisations, focusing on their policies, practices and theoretical approaches. The module also provides an introduction to the core practical skills considered essential for anyone working in the fields of conflict prevention, mediation, crisis management, peacebuilding or protecting the environment, as well as the dilemmas they frequently face.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Introduce students to competing theories of peace, conflict and violence, including environmental theory
  • Explore the causes of conflict in the contemporary world
  • Provide an understanding of some of the institutions and organisations (governmental and non-governmental) that work in conflict situations
  • Analyse the varied objectives and methods of such organisations
  • Introduce the core practical skills for work in relevant fields, thus enhancing employability


Approaches to the study of peace and conflict; theories of peace, conflict and violence; positive and negative peace; violence against nature and environmental theory; greed and grievance as causes of conflict; violent conflict in the contemporary world and the forces that generate it; international institutions with responsibilities to counteract or reduce conflict and environmental damage; peacekeeping, conflict prevention, crisis management, humanitarian assistance, mediation and peacebuilding; the range and varied roles of the NGO sector in working for peace and protecting the environment; practical skills.

Learning and teaching

  • Most weeks’ teaching will consist of a two-hour combined lecture and workshop and a one-hour seminar. Each lecture/workshop will comprise an interactive lecture and one or more activities undertaken by small groups. The seminars will involve discussions centred on pre-set readings.
  • This module is practically oriented and a heavy emphasis is placed on employability, which is embedded throughout the module in the following ways: guest lectures and workshops facilitated by practitioners such as non-governmental organisations; simulations and role-play exercises exploring the practicalities of working for peace; the briefing paper component of assessment and related class activities; and guidance and formative feedback on producing a briefing paper for an organisation working in this field
  • The module makes extensive use of blended learning, primarily through full use of the dedicated Weblearn site for the module, including interactive use of the mail and discussion tools, module information, lecture PowerPoint slides, and scanned copies of key texts that are not available electronically
  • Reflective learning will be encouraged through the practical activities and the regular interactive lectures, workshop activities and seminar discussions. Students will be required to attend all classes, to engage in the set activities, to prepare in advance by undertaking assigned readings, to complete coursework by deadlines, and to reflect and act on the feedback they receive

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should:

  • Understand the main theoretical approaches to peace, conflict, and violence, including environmental considerations
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the central debates concerning the causes of conflict in the contemporary world
  • Appreciate the differing objectives of various institutions and organisations working for peace and the range of methods used in the attempt to realise these objectives
  • Have a basic appreciation of the key practical skills for work in the fields of conflict prevention, mediation, crisis management, peacebuilding or protecting the environment

Assessment strategy

Assessment is based on the following elements:


  1. A 250-word introduction to one of the essay questions for the module. This must be submitted by week 9.


  1. An essay, worth 50% of the final grade. It will be 2000 words in length. This must be submitted by week 13.
  2. A briefing paper, worth 50% of the final grade. It will be 2500 words in length. This must be submitted by week 28.


Anderson, M. B., and L. Olson (2003) ‘Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners’,
Anderson, M. B. (1999) Do No Harm: How Aid can Support Peace or War (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner)
Barash, D. and C. Webel (2008) Peace and Conflict Studies, 2nd ed. (London: Sage)
Bellamy, A. J. and P. D. Williams (2010) Understanding Peacekeeping, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity)
CQ Researcher (2010) Issues in Peace and Conflict (London: Sage)
Cramer, C. (2006) Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries (London: Hurst)
Duffield. M. (2001) Global Governance and the New Wars (London: Zed Books)
Kaldor, M. (2012) New and Old Wars, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Keen, D. (2012) Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars is More Important Than Winning Them (New Haven: Yale University Press)
People Building Peace,
Polman, L. (2010) War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times (London: Viking)
Pouligny, P. (2006) Peace Operations seen from Below: UN Missions and Local People (London: Hurst)
Richmond, O. and H. F. Carey (eds) (2005) Subcontracting Peace: The Challenges of NGO Peacebuilding (London: Ashgate)
Van Tongeren, P., Brenk, M., Hellema and J. Verhoeven (2005) People Building Peace II: Successful Stories of Civil Society (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner)
Wallenstein, P. (2011) Peace Research: Theory and Practice (London: Routledge)
Webel, C. and G. Johansen (eds) (2011) Peace and Conflict Studies: A Reader (London: Routledge)
Willetts, P. (2010) Non-Governmental Organisations in World Politics: The Construction of Global Governance (London: Routledge)
Zelizer, C. and L. Johnston (2005) ‘Skills, Networks and Knowledge: Developing a Career in International Peace and Conflict Resolution’: