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Programme & Unit Catalogues

SP50313: Conflict, development and peacebuilding

[Page last updated: 01 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 18 [equivalent to 36 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 360
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Academic Year
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework Essay (CW 10%)
  • Coursework Conflict Analysis (CW 25%)
  • Coursework Essay (CW 65%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: By the end of this unit students will be able to:
* understand and explain the concepts of conflict, peace, and security
* critically evaluate contrasting theories on the relationship between conflict and development
* understand, explain and evaluate how development and humanitarian responses to conflict have changed over time
* critically assess contemporary humanitarian and peacebuilding responses to conflict.

Aims: This unit offers:
* In-depth introduction to the main theoretical approaches to the study of conflict and development.
* Comprehensive critical review of debates surrounding contemporary conflict and the changing character of war.
* Comprehensive critical review of academic and policy debates surrounding contemporary and historical development and peacebuilding interventions in conflict settings.

Skills: By the end of this unit students will be able to:
* analyse and assess the significance of different conceptualisations of conflict, peace and security (T/F/A)
* write articulately, concisely and persuasively about issues relating to conflict, development and peacebuilding (T/F/A)
* research independently issues related to conflict, development and peacebuilding (T/F/A).

Content: Part one: conflict and development (weeks 1-8)
This part of the course will introduce students to the main conceptual debates surrounding the field of conflict and development. It will provide some historical perspective to the analysis of contemporary conflict and introduce students to key academic debates concerning the relationship between development and conflict. This part will typically cover:
* Key concepts: conflict, peace and development
* War and historical change
* Development theory and conflict
* The changing face of war: `New wars' and `complex political emergencies'
Part two: the causes of conflict (9-16)
This section explores a range of theoretical perspectives on the causes of violent conflict. In doing so, it will introduce students to a range of disciplinary perspectives and approaches from politics, sociology, international relations, and economics. This part of the unit will cover the most significant dimensions of conflict and how they have been explained historically and in contemporary studies. These would typically include
* Economic dimensions
* The role of ethnicity and religion
* Environmental factors and climate change
* Regional dimensions and the geography of conflict
Part three: peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction (17-24)
This part of the course will explore theoretical approaches to peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction - engaging with debates around how the transition to peace is affected by processes of democratisation and economic liberalisation. This part of the unit will cover the most significant dimensions of peace-building and how they have been explained historically and in contemporary studies. These would typically include
* Liberal and illiberal peacebuilding, human security, and beyond
* Conflict prevention
* Political transitions to peace
* Economic transitions to peace
The unit will draw on the three case studies circulated to students prior to the start of the course.

Programme availability:

SP50313 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • THSP-ADM31 : MSc Humanitarianism, Conflict and Development


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.