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The Politics of Peacebuilding - POL00101M

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Matthew Whiting
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module takes as its starting point that armed conflicts have lasting transformative impacts on the state, its politics and existing governance structures. Using both theoretical and empirical material, the module analyses how peace is being forged at the local and national level, focusing on the interaction dynamics between international peacebuilding and domestic politics. It provides students with a set of tool-boxes to analyze and understand variations in the quality of peace across diverse types of conflicts and contexts.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module provides students with in-depth understanding of the political dynamics of peace-making after war and armed conflict. Recognizing that civil wars and armed conflicts have lasting transformative political and social effects, the module addresses contemporary issues of the parallel processes of forging peace and post-war stability studying international peacebuilding strategies, domestic political strategies as well as their interactions. Drawing on a range of case studies and empirical examples, the module asks what kind of peace is being forged, which actors are involved, and what are the consequences of their strategies, policies and power dynamics? How do the actors who were fighting such as the rebel groups, the militias and the military adapt to post-war politics and what role do they play in shaping war-to-peace transitions as well as the post-war political order? What role does political agency, identity and gender of citizens and of political actors play in shaping peace? In what ways do international peacebuilding policies interact with regional, national and local dynamics and what are the outcomes? How do societies heal and recover from legacies of violence and what are the implications for post-war politics and peace? The module is anchored in exciting, ongoing research and policy debates about peacebuilding and post-war politics addressing some of the most pressing issues facing countries moving out of war across a diverse set of contexts. Case studies will be drawn from all over the world, based on the wide range of expertise available within the Department, and may include the Middle East, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin/Central America, the Caucasus and Europe

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges facing countries emerging out of armed conflict.

  • Compare across types of countries and post-war experiences, and identify key dynamics that can account for similarities and differences

  • Discuss competing views and explanations of the causes of variation in outcomes, using both quantitative and qualitative evidence

  • Critically reflect on and evaluate different peacebuilding policies and critically assess their consequences

Academic and graduate skills:

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Think critically about complex subjects

  • Communicate effectively in both verbal and written forms

  • Present complex concepts and topics confidently

  • Engage in effective secondary research


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Cheng, Christine (2019), Extralegal Groups in Post-Conflict Liberia: How Trade Makes the State Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cheldelin, Sandra and Eliatamby, Maneshka (2011) Women Waging War and Peace: International Perspectives on Women’s Roles in Conflict and Post-Conflict Reconstruction. NY: Continuum Books.

Curtis, D. & G. Sindre (2019) Transforming State Visions: Ideology and Ideas in Armed Groups Turned Political Parties. Government and Opposition, 54, 387-414.

Dayton, Bruce B. and Kriesberg, Louis (2009) Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding: Moving from Violence to Sustainable Peace. New York: Routledge.

Howard, Lise M. (2019) Power in Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Huang, Reyko (2016) The Wartime Origins of Democratization: Civil Wars, Rebel Governance, and Political Regimes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Piccolino, G. 2015. Winning wars, building (illiberal) peace? The rise (and possible fall) of a victor's peace in Rwanda and Sri Lanka. 1770-1785.

Matanock, Aila (M.) (2017) Electing Peace: From Civil Conflict to Political Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wood, E. (2001) An insurgent path to democracy: popular mobilization, economic interests, and regime transition in South Africa and El Salvador. Comparative political studies, 34, 862-888.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.