GV4E3      Half Unit
Democratisation, Conflict and Statebuilding

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof James Hughes CON5.05


This course is available on the MSc in Conflict Studies. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course is a recommended paper 2 option for the MSc Conflict Studies. Preference is given in the first instance to Conflict Studies students, and then, if there is space, to Global Politics students. This course is capped at two groups and requires that students (regardless of Department or MSc programme) apply via the department's capped course process.The deadline for receipt of applications will likely be between Friday 25 September and Friday 9 October 2015, depending on the course. The exact deadline for applications will be confirmed at your programme induction.

Course content

This course provides a theoretically informed assessment and critique of the debates on the relationship between democratization, violent conflict and state-building. It seeks to explain why some state-building projects have succeeded while others failed or are failing. Case studies will be drawn from post-communist Europe and Eurasia, principally focusing on the Western Balkans, North and South Caucasus, and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. Themes considered include: state collapse of the USSR and Yugoslavia, theories and forms of state-building, democratization, nationalism and nation-state building, internal armed conflicts; conceptualising 'failed state'; nationalist mobilisation and the 'nationalising' state; 'ethnic democracies'; authoritarian state-building; secession and national and ethnic conflict management; the political economy of armed conflicts; democracy promotion, international conditionality and intervention, in particular by the EU and U.S. ; the politics and security challenges posed by 'frozen conflicts'. As an LSE Moodle course, most of the weekly essential readings are available online.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.


Please note that in the 2015-16 session this course will be taught in an intensified manner over 6 weeks instead of 11 weeks.


There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT for private study, assessment preparation and other support activities.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit one essay outline (1000 words) in preparation for the assessed essay, and prepare one group seminar presentation.

Indicative reading

David Laitin, Nations, States and Violence, Oxford, 2007; Philip G. Roeder and Donald Rothchild eds, Sustainable Peace. Power and Democracy after Civil Wars, Cornell, 2005; James Hughes, Chechnya. From Nationalism to Jihad, Penn Press, 2007; Gwendolyn Sasse, The Crimea Question. Identity, Transition and Conflict, Harvard, 2007; James Hughes & Gwendolyn Sasse (Eds), Ethnicity and Territory in the Former Soviet Union, Routledge, 2001; Christoph Zurcher, The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus, New York University Press, 2007; David Chandler, From Kosovo to Kabul: Human Rights and International Intervention, Pluto, 2002; David Chandler, Empire in Denial. The Politics of State-Building, Pluto, 2006; Jan Koehler and Christoph Zurcher eds, Potentials of Disorder Explaining Conflict and Stability in the Caucasus and in the Former Yugoslavia, Manchester, 2003.


Essay (100%, 5000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 11.4
Merit 72.7
Pass 11.4
Fail 4.5

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 23

Average class size 2014/15: 12

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication