DV520      Half Unit
Complex Emergencies

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Keen CON 7.16 and Dr Diana Weinhold CON 7.10

Head of Department, Doctoral Programme Directors, MSc Course Convenor and PhD Supervisor


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in International Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is available as an option to students enrolled in the MRes/PhD in International Development only

Course content

The course examines the consequences and causes of humanitarian disasters. It looks at the changing nature of civil conflicts, at the famine process, and at the benefits that may arise for some groups from war and famine. It examines some of the roots of violence in civil wars, as well as the information systems that surround and help to shape disasters.


16 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

A plan for the research paper (1500-2000 words) on which the student will receive feedback and topic approval

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list will be provided at the first course meeting. A useful text, which is designed in large part around the course, is David Keen, Complex Emergencies (Polity, 2008). Other texts of interest include David Keen, Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars is More Important than Winning Them (Yale University Press, 2012);   Stathis Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2006); David Keen, Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone (James Currey, 2005); David Keen, Endless War? Hidden Functions of the 'War on Terror' (Pluto, 2006); Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines (Oxford University Press, 1981); Frances Stewart and Valpy FitzGerald (eds.), War and Underdevelopment, Volumes 1 and 2 (Oxford University Press, 2001); and Jeremy Weinstein, Inside Violence: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Tim Allen, Trial Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Lord's Resistance Army (Zed Press, 2006), Chris Dolan, Social Torture: The Case of Northern Uganda, 1986-2006 (Berghahn, 2009); Zoe Marriage, Not Breaking the Rules, Not Playing the Game: International Assistance to Countries in Conflict (Hurst and Co., 2006); Christopher Cramer, Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries (Hurst and Co., 2006); Mats Berdal and David Malone, Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars (Lynne Rienner, 2000); Hugo Slim, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War (Hurst and Co., 2008).


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

1 x 5000 word research paper to be submitted on the first Friday of the Summer Term.  The research paper will be co-marked by the course convenor and the student's PhD supervisor.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication