The Analysis of Conflict and Peace

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
03 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Module description
This module focuses on contemporary conflict and peace research and the concept and tools necessary to be able to follow current research in this area. Whereas many courses focus on "knowing that", or familiarizing students with particular facts or existing contributions to the literature, our emphasis here will very much be on "knowing how", or the underlying logic of theoretical arguments about war and peace and how researchers evaluate these. In particular, we will not focus on meta-theories such as realism or liberalism, which postulate a set of core assumptions and general propositions on how international relations are held to operate, but instead look at the implications entailed by different theories and arguments on war and peace, and think of ways to evaluate if these are consistent with empirical patterns. We will examine the relationship between theory and evidence, measurement, and research design in research on war and peace. The specific theories and issues we will examine include conflict trends, the relationship of power, preferences, economic relations, domestic politics, and international organizations to conflict and peace.

Module aims

Objectives of the module
By the end of the module the students should have achieved the following:
* Have a good overview and understanding of current theories on the causes of war and peace
* Understand current controversies on the causes of war and peace using the theories discussed in the course
* Understand core issues regarding how one would evaluate the implications of distinct theories and assess the validity of theoretical and empirical claims
* Practical knowledge of data sources relevant to conflict and basic analysis skills

Module learning outcomes

Key skills
The module seeks to develop or enhance the following key skills:
• Analyzing theories and cases trains students’ analytical skills
• Analyzing the case material trains students in developing research design.
• Analyzing the case material trains students’ numeracy skills
• Report writing trains students’ writing skills
• Analysis and evaluation in the light of theory requires critical thinking

Module information

This module will be delivered with (i) a weekly pre-recorded lecture and (ii) a weekly interactive lecture. The pre-recorded lecture will consist of one or more items of prepared content that students can access electronically and must study before the interactive lecture. The interactive lecture will consist of one 50-minute lecture in which students can ask questions about, and discuss various aspects of, the prepared content with the module supervisor.

Students are expected to watch the pre-recorded lecture, participate actively in discussions in the interactive lecture, and complete two pieces of assigned coursework.

Please also let me know if there is a particular gender pronoun with which you would like me to address you.

Learning and teaching methods

Module organization Teaching on the module consists of a) weekly 1 hour lecture and b) a weekly 1 hour lab session throughout the Spring term . Workload Students are expected to participate actively in discussions in the seminar and must complete three pieces of assigned coursework. Note that the coursework will require students to make use of the free statistics package R, available at http://www.r-project.org (no prior knowledge of R is assumed).


  • Han Dorussen; Theodora-Ismene Gizelis. (2013) 'Into the lion's den: Local responses to UN peacekeeping', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 50 (6) , pp.691-706
  • (no date) Human Security Report 2013: The decline in global violence: evidence, explanation and contestation: Human Security Report Project, Simon Fraser University.
  • (1990) 'The Logic of Terrorism: Terrorist Behavior as a Product of Strategic Choice', in Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind, Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars., pp.7-24
  • Joshua S. Goldstein and Jon C. Pevehouse. (1997) 'Reciprocity, Bullying, and International Cooperation: Time-series Analysis of the Bosnia Conflict', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 91 (3) , pp.515-529
  • Halvard Buhaug, Lars-Erik Cederman and Jan Ketil Rød. (2008) 'Disaggregating Ethno-Nationalist Civil Wars: A Dyadic Test of Exclusion Theory', in International Organization. vol. 62 (3) , pp.531-551
  • Edward N. Muller and Mitchell A. Seligson. (1987) 'Inequality and Insurgency', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 81 (2) , pp.425-452
  • James D. Fearon. (1995) 'Rationalist Explanations for War', in International Organization. vol. 49 (3) , pp.379-414
  • Babst, Dean. (1964) Elective governments: A force for peace. vol. 1, pp.9-14-
  • Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth. (2008) 'Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict', in International Security. vol. 33 (1) , pp.7-44
  • Andrea Ruggeri; Theodora-Ismene Gizelis; Han Dorussen. (2013) 'Managing Mistrust: An Analysis of Cooperation with UN Peacekeeping in Africa', in Journal of Conflict Resolution. vol. 57 (3) , pp.387-409
  • Mancur Olson, Jr. and Richard Zeckhauser. (1966) 'An Economic Theory of Alliances', in The Review of Economics and Statistics. vol. 48 (3) , pp.266-279
  • Isak Svensson; Mathilda Lindgren. (2011) 'Community and consent: Unarmed insurrections in non-democracies', in European Journal of International Relations. vol. 17 (1) , pp.97-120
  • Barbara Harff. (2003) 'No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 97 (1) , pp.57-73
  • Tago, A. (2009-03-01) 'When Are Democratic Friends Unreliable? The Unilateral Withdrawal of Troops from the `Coalition of the Willing'', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 46 (2) , pp.219-234
  • Hazem Adam Ghobarah, Paul Huth and Bruce Russett. (2003) 'Civil Wars Kill and Maim People-Long after the Shooting Stops', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 97 (2) , pp.189-202
  • William J. Dixon. (1996) 'Third-Party Techniques for Preventing Conflict Escalation and Promoting Peaceful Settlement', in International Organization: The MIT Press. vol. 50 (4) , pp.653-681
  • Douglas Lemke. (2008) 'Power Politics and Wars without States', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 52 (4) , pp.774-786
  • Moore, Will H.; Shellman, Stephen M. (2007) 'Whither Will They Go? A Global Study of Refugees' Destinations, 1965-1995', in International Studies Quarterly. vol. 51 (4) , pp.811-834
  • James D. Morrow. (1991) 'Alliances and Asymmetry: An Alternative to the Capability Aggregation Model of Alliances', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 35 (4) , pp.904-933
  • Caroline Hartzell and Matthew Hoddie. (2003) 'Institutionalizing Peace: Power Sharing and Post-Civil War Conflict Management', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 47 (2) , pp.318-332
  • Erik Gartzke. (2007) 'The Capitalist Peace', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 51 (1) , pp.166-191
  • Singer, J. David; Bremer, Stuart; Stuckey, John. (c1972) 'Capability Distribution, Uncertainty, and Major Power War', in Peace, war, and numbers, Beverly Hills: Sage., pp.19-48
  • Asal, Victor H.; Rethemeyer, R. Karl. (2008) 'The Nature of the Beast: Organizational Structures and the Lethality of Terrorist Attacks', in The Journal of Politics: The University of Chicago Press. vol. 70 (2) , pp.437-449
  • Håvard Hegre, Tanja Ellingsen, Scott Gates and Nils Petter Gleditsch. (2001) 'Toward a Democratic Civil Peace? Democracy, Political Change, and Civil War, 1816-1992', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 95 (1) , pp.33-48
  • Lars-Erik Cederman; Nils B. Weidmann; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. (2011) 'Horizontal Inequalities and Ethnonationalist Civil War: A Global Comparison', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 105 (3) , pp.478-495
  • Gartzke, E. (2006-03-01) 'Identity and Conflict: Ties that Bind and Differences that Divide', in European Journal of International Relations. vol. 12 (1) , pp.53-87
  • James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin. (2003) 'Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 97 (1) , pp.75-90
  • Eck, K.; Hultman, L. (2007-03-01) 'One-Sided Violence Against Civilians in War: Insights from New Fatality Data', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 44 (2) , pp.233-246
  • (1999-01-10) 'The Kantian Peace: The Pacific Benefits of Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations, 1885-1992', in World Politics: The Johns Hopkins University Press. vol. 52 (1) , pp.1-37
  • Michael W. Doyle and Nicholas Sambanis. (2000) 'International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis', in The American Political Science Review: American Political Science Association. vol. 94 (4) , pp.779-801

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1    50% 
Coursework   Assignment 2    50% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Saurabh Pant, email: sp20266@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Saurabh Pant
Dr Saurabh Pant, sp20266@essex.ac.uk; Module Administrator: Jamie Seakens, govpgquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Nicholas Walter Vivyan
University of Durham
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 10 (33.3%) hours available to students:
20 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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