GV4E3      Half Unit
Democratisation, Conflict and Statebuilding

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof James Hughes


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 capped at one group. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 1 October 2019. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

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 and civil wars; conceptualising 'failed state'; nationalist mobilisation and the 'nationalising' state; 'ethnic democracies'; authoritarian state-building; secession and national and ethnic conflict management; "coloured revolutions"; 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.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT.

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).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 10

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication