GV4G4      Half Unit
Comparative Conflict Analysis

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Bill Kissane CON5.06

Dr.des. Livia Schubiger

Dr Frederick Laker 


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Conflict Studies. This course is not available as an outside option.

Compulsory core course for and entry restricted to MSc Conflict Studies students only. It is capped at 3 groups. The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, 2 October 2015.

Course content

What is intra-state conflict? How should we investigate and measure political violence? What causes national and ethnic conflict and other forms of political violence and why does it take particular forms? What are the most effective means of conflict resolution? This course will introduce students to the core theoretical debates on intra-state conflict and political violence by analysing the major research in the field, both quantitative and qualitative. The course is structured around three categories of analysis and explanation: causation, dynamics and outcomes. Central themes include: the role of violence in state formation, development and collapse; theories of legitimacy, contentious politics and control regimes; the causes, dynamics and consequences of civil war; the interaction of group identities, interests and political violence; macro- and micro-analyses of conflict; and top-down and bottom-up methods for ending violent conflict, including intervention, the role of civil society, and institutional designs. The course offers students the opportunity to engage with the main methodological approaches to the study of conflict, including critical case studies, process tracing, small n and large n research, which will enhance their skills for the dissertation. In the weekly lectures and seminars the themes will be explored through a mix of theory-based readings and works which provide in-depth case studies.


16 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 16 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT.

In week 11 of MT the lectures and seminars will focus on revision. 

Formative coursework

Students are required to complete one formative essay of 2,000 words.

Indicative reading

Charles Tilly (2003) The Politics of Collective Violence, Cambridge: CUP;

Paul Collier and Nicholas Sambanis eds (2005), Understanding Civil War, The World Bank, Vols 1-2;

Stathis N. Kalyvas (2006) The Logic of Violence in Civil War, Cambridge, CUP;

Philip G. Roeder, and Donald Rothchild (2005) Sustainable Peace. Power and Democracy after Civil Wars, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2005;

Arend Lijphart (2008) Thinking about Democracy: Power Sharing and Majority Rule in Theory and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge;

Sid Noel ed (2005) From Power-Sharing to Democracy. Post-Conflict Institutions in Ethnically Divided Societies. London: McGill-Queens University Press;

James Fearon and David Laitin (2003) ‘Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War’, American Political Science Review, 97, 1:. 75-90;

David Laitin (2007). Nations, Sates and Violence. Oxford, OUP;

Christopher Cramer (2006) Civil War is not a stupid thing, Hurst;

Paul Collier (2009) War, Guns & Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places New York: Harper;

Jack L. Snyder (2000) From Voting to Violence : Democratization and Nationalist Conflict, New York London: Norton, 2000;

Mats Berdal and David Malone eds (2000) Greed and Grievance. Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, Rienner;

Karen Ballentine and Jake Sherman (2003) The Political Economy of Armed Conflict. Beyond Greed and Grievance, Rienner;

Donald Horowitz (1985) Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Berkeley, University of California Press;

James Hughes (2007) Chechnya. From Nationalism to Jihad, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press;

Unsettled states, disputed lands : Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza. Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1993

Ashutosh Varshney (2003) Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India New Haven: Yale University Press;

Jeremy Weinstein (2006) Inside Rebellion: the Politics of Insurgent Violence Cambridge: CUP;

Reynolds, Andrew (2010). Designing Democracy in a Dangerous World. Oxford University Press;

Marianne Heiberg, Brendan O’Leary and John Tirman eds (2007) Terror, Insurgency and the State: Ending Protracted Conflicts. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the LT week 0.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 61

Average class size 2014/15: 15

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication