Conflict Resolution

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The module exposes students to different political theories and approaches within the field of conflict resolution. It provides an overview and a basic framework for studying the evolving field of conflict resolution. The focus is on conflict resolution in inter- and intra-state issues. The students have the opportunity to explore conflict resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, arbitration, collaborative problem solving, peacekeeping operations, and other applications. The module especially focuses on the practical as well as on the theoretical aspects of conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation. The students have the opportunity to explore the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem-solving real cases of international conflict.

Module aims

The main aim of this module is to teach students to think and write critically about conflict analysis and resolution using theories and methods of political science. Students will develop the ability to think and make reasoned arguments using positive theories and supported by the best available empirical evidence. These aims and objectives are achieved through a variety of teaching and learning strategies such as lectures, in-depth seminar sessions, and independently produced assignments.


The objectives of the module are:

1. Introduce students to key concept and models in conflict research
2. Introduce students to different theories about the causes of interstate and civil conflict.
3. Introduce students to bargaining models and negotiation theory

Module learning outcomes

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

1. Understand key concepts in conflict studies

2. Explore the systemic reasons that determine the choice of individuals and/or groups with respect to violence and non-violence.

3. Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different conflict resolution approaches.

4. Evaluate the different methods of conflict resolution using case studies.

5. Relate the theory and the practice of the problems involved in the attempted resolution and/or management of international conflicts and intrastate conflicts

Key Skills
The module also enables students to acquire the following generic and transferable skills:

1. Library and Internet research

2. Data collection, presentation and analysis

3. Exposition and argumentation in a structured fashion

4. Working independently and as part of a group

5. Production of short well-researched essays and reports

6. Working to deadlines

7. Conducting oneself in a scholarly and professional manner

Module information

This is a 10-week module. This module will be delivered with (i) a weekly pre-recorded lecture and (ii) a weekly interactive seminar. 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 seminar. In four weeks, students need to complete a quiz. The interactive lecture will consist of one 50-minute seminar in which students can ask questions about, and discuss various aspects of, the prepared content with the module supervisor. Students will be encouraged (and expected) to submit question electronically before the interactive lecture. The simulation in Week 10 will be delivered on-line (using two 3-hour sessions one in the morning and another in the afternoon to accommodate different time zones).

The module is assessed with one short and one longer written assignment, and four quizzes.

Students are required to submit 1,000 double-spaced word-processed assignment in week 11 applying a conflict-analysis tool to intra-state conflict (ongoing for at least some years since 2000). Students are required to submit one 4,000 word double-spaced word-processed essay in week 16.
* The first essay is worth 30% of the final mark
* The second essay is worth 50%
* The four quizzes are worth 20% in total

ESSAY TOPICS and Assignments:
* Assignment 1 (Due on Week 11): 1,000 words (approx. 2 pages) where you apply a conflict-analysis tool to intrastate conflict of your choosing (ongoing for at least some years post 2000, but NOT Syria).
* Essay 1: (Due on Week 16)
Essay #1 consists of a conflict analysis of an international conflict of your choosing (post 1945, but NOT the war between Eritrea-Ethiopia), drawing on relevant negotiation literature and theory. It will include identifying primary and secondary parties, positions, interests, options, strategic environment etc. The next step is to develop a strategy briefing for one of the parties in the conflict you have analysed. In the briefing, you will be providing advice as to how that party should proceed with the negotiation, given the data in the conflict analysis. It should also include attention to preparation, power dynamics, culture and gender issues where relevant, and coalitions.
* Four Quizzes: You are expected to watch videos before the scheduled lecture. There are four weeks, where you will also take online quizzes based on the video presentation. The selected weeks are indicated with an asterisk.

Study abroad students who leave at the end of December will be assessed on the basis of the first assignment and a short (1,500 word) essay both to be submitted in week 11, and the first four quizzes.

Learning and teaching methods

This is a 23-week module (including individual Masters advising in last teaching week) with each week's teaching taking place for 2 hours using either the format of lecture/seminar or a workshop for all students. Teaching will be in weeks 2 – 25 and week 30. There is a revision session in week 31. Eight lectures will be delivered on-line, and all students should watch the videos and complete the quizzes before attending the seminars in these weeks.


  • Dorussen, H.; Gizelis, T.-I. (2013) 'Into the lion's den: Local responses to UN peacekeeping', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 50 (6) , pp.691-706
  • Beardsley, Kyle C.; David, Q.; Bidisha, B.; Wilkenfield, J. (2006) 'Mediation Style and Crisis Outcomes', in The Journal of Conflict Resolution. vol. 50 (1) , pp.58-86
  • Glasius, Marlies. (2009) 'What Is Global Justice and Who Decides? Civil Society and Victim Responses to the International Criminal Court's First Investigations', in Human Rights Quarterly. vol. 31 (2) , pp.496-520
  • Stein, J. (2013) 'Psychological explanations of international conflict', in Handbook of international relations, London: SAGE., pp.195-219
  • Dorussen, Han; Ward, Hugh. (2010) 'Trade networks and the Kantian peace', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 47 (1) , pp.29-42
  • Gizelis, Theodora-Ismene. (2009) 'Gender Empowerment and United Nations Peacebuilding', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 46 (4) , pp.505-523
  • Walter, Barbara F. (1997) 'The Critical Barrier to Civil War Settlement', in International Organization. vol. 51 (3) , pp.335-364
  • Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher. (2013-07) 'Actor Fragmentation and Civil War Bargaining: How Internal Divisions Generate Civil Conflict', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 57 (3) , pp.659-672
  • Princen, Thomas. (2014) Intermediaries in international conflict, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Lake, David A.; Rothchild, Donald. (1996) 'Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict', in International Security. vol. 21 (2) , pp.41-75
  • Watson, Carol. (1994-04) 'Gender versus Power as a Predictor of Negotiation Behavior and Outcomes', in Negotiation Journal. vol. 10 (2) , pp.117-127
  • Mitchell, C. R. (2014) The nature of intractable conflict: resolution in the twenty-first century, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Curran, Daniel; Sebenius, James K.; Watkins, Michael. (2004-10) 'Two Paths to Peace: Contrasting George Mitchell in Northern Ireland with Richard Holbrooke in Bosnia-Herzegovina', in Negotiation Journal. vol. 20 (4) , pp.513-537
  • Fearon, James D. (1995) 'Rationalist Explanations for War', in International Organization. vol. 49 (3) , pp.379-414
  • Melin, Molly M. (2011-09) 'The Impact of State Relationships on If, When, and How Conflict Management Occurs1', in International Studies Quarterly. vol. 55 (3) , pp.691-715
  • Howard, L.M. (2002) 'UN Peace Implementation in Namibia: The Causes of Success', in International Peacekeeping. vol. 9 (1) , pp.99-132
  • Bara, Corinne. (2014-11) 'Incentives and opportunities', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 51 (6) , pp.696-710
  • Murdie, Amanda; Purser, Carolin. (2017-07-03) 'How protest affects opinions of peaceful demonstration and expression rights', in Journal of Human Rights. vol. 16 (3) , pp.351-369
  • Stedman, S. (2001) Implementing Peace Agreements in Civil Wars: Lessons and Recommendations for Policymakers.
  • Fearon, James D.; Laitin, David D. (2003) 'Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 97 (1) , pp.75-90
  • Ramsbotham, Oliver; Woodhouse, Tom; Miall, Hugh. (2016) Contemporary conflict resolution: the prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Gizelis, T-I; Dorussen, H; Dorussen, M. (2016) RESEARCH FINDINGS ON THE EVOLUTION OF PEACEKEEPING.
  • Ashenfelter, Orley; Layard, Richard; Card, David E. (1986-2011) Handbook of labor economics, Amsterdam: North-Holland. vol. 5
  • Greig, J. Michael. (2001) 'Moments of Opportunity: Recognizing Conditions of Ripeness for International Mediation between Enduring Rivals', in The Journal of Conflict Resolution. vol. 45 (6) , pp.691-718
  • Melander, E. (2010) Amnesty, Peace and Human Development in the Aftermath of Civil War.
  • Mearns, Robin; Norton, Andrew. (c2010) Social dimensions of climate change: equity and vulnerability in a warming world, Washington, DC: World Bank.
  • Fisher, Roger; Ury, William; Patton, Bruce. (2012) Getting to yes: negotiating an agreement without giving in, London: Random House Business.
  • Fisher, Simon. (2000) Working with conflict: skills and strategies for action, London: Zed Books.
  • Powell, Robert. (2006) 'War as a Commitment Problem', in International Organization. vol. 60 (1) , pp.169-203
  • Doyle, Michael W.; Sambanis, Nicholas. (2000) 'International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis', in The American Political Science Review. vol. 94 (4) , pp.779-801
  • Celestino, Mauricio Rivera; Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. (2013-05) 'Fresh carnations or all thorn, no rose? Nonviolent campaigns and transitions in autocracies', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 50 (3) , pp.385-400
  • Beardsley, Kyle; Schmidt, Holger. (2012) 'Following the Flag or Following the Charter? Examining the Determinants of UN Involvement in International Crises, 1945-20021', in International Studies Quarterly. vol. 56 (1) , pp.33-49
  • Bakaki, Zorzeta. (2016-01) 'Deconstructing Mediation: A Case Study of the Cod Wars', in Negotiation Journal. vol. 32 (1) , pp.63-78
  • Autesserre, Séverine. (2008) 'The Trouble with Congo: How Local Disputes Fuel Regional Conflict', in Foreign Affairs. vol. 87 (3) , pp.94-110
  • Harbom, Lotta; Wallensteen, Peter. (2005-09) 'Armed Conflict and Its International Dimensions, 1946-2004', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 42 (5) , pp.623-635
  • Karim, Sabrina; Beardsley, Kyle. (2016-01) 'Explaining sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions', in Journal of Peace Research. vol. 53 (1) , pp.100-115
  • Collier, Paul; Hoeffler, Anke. (2004) 'Greed and Grievance in Civil War', in Oxford Economic Papers. vol. 56 (4) , pp.563-595
  • Fearon, James D. , David D. Laitin. (2000) 'Review: Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity', in International Organization. vol. 54 (4) , pp.845-877
  • Bercovitch, Jacob; Jackson, Richard. (c2009) Conflict resolution in the twenty-first century: principles, methods, and approaches, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Hartzell, Caroline; Hoddie, Matthew. (2003-04) 'Institutionalizing Peace: Power Sharing and Post-Civil War Conflict Management', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 47 (2) , pp.318-332
  • Gartzke, Erik. (2007) 'The Capitalist Peace', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 51 (1) , pp.166-191
  • Wetlaufer, Gerald B. (1996) 'Limits of Integrative Bargaining, The', in Georgetown Law Journal. vol. 85, pp.369-
  • Salacuse, Jeswald W. (1998-07) 'Ten Ways that Culture Affects Negotiating Style: Some Survey Results', in Negotiation Journal. vol. 14 (3) , pp.221-240
  • Hensel, Paul R.; McLaughlin Mitchell, Sara; Sowers, Thomas E.; Thyne, Clayton L. (2008-02) 'Bones of Contention', in Journal of Conflict Resolution. vol. 52 (1) , pp.117-143
  • Bakaki, Z. (2017) Mediation via International Organizations (Oxford Bibliographies - International Relations).
  • Stephan, Maria J.; Chenoweth, Erica. (2008) 'Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict', in International Security. vol. 33 (1) , pp.7-44
  • Bakaki, Zorzeta; Böhmelt, Tobias; Bove, Vincenzo. (2016-10) 'Barriers to Coordination? Examining the Impact of Culture on International Mediation Occurrence and Effectiveness', in Political Studies. vol. 64 (3) , pp.492-512
  • Pinker, Steven. (2011) The better angels of our nature: the decline of violence in history and its causes, London: Allen Lane.
  • Paris, Roland. (1997) 'Peacebuilding and the Limits of Liberal Internationalism', in International Security. vol. 22 (2) , pp.54-89
  • Beber, B. (2012) 'International Mediation, Selection Effects, and the Question of Bias', in Conflict Management and Peace Science. vol. 29 (4) , pp.397-424
  • Mearsheimer, John J. (1995) 'The False Promise of International Institutions', in International Security. vol. 19 (3) , pp.5-49
  • James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin. (no date) 'Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War', in The American Political Science Review: American Political Science Association.
  • Carothers, Thomas. (1998) 'The Rule of Law Revival', in Foreign Affairs. vol. 77 (2) , pp.95-106
  • Wall Jr, James A.; Druckman, Daniel. (2003) 'Mediation in Peacekeeping Missions', in The Journal of Conflict Resolution. vol. 47 (5) , pp.693-705
  • Böhmelt, Tobias. (2011-10) 'Disaggregating Mediations: The Impact of Multiparty Mediation', in British Journal of Political Science. vol. 41 (04) , pp.859-881

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    30% 
Coursework   Essay 1    50% 
Written Exam  Quizzes    20% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Han Dorussen, email: hdorus@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Han Dorussen
Module Supervisor Professor Han Dorussen hdorus@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 23 hours, 21 (91.3%) hours available to students:
2 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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