Not available in 2020/21
GV465      Half Unit
War, Peace and the Politics of National Self-Determination

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Sumantra Bose


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Human Rights and MSc in Human Rights and Politics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority consideration will be given to students taking the MSc Comparative Politics and the MSc Global Politics. Students on other programmes (including MSc Human Rights, MSc Empires, Colonialism, Globalisation, MSc International Relations and MA/MSc History of International Relations) are welcome to apply and will be admitted subject to availability of space. Students on all programmes are required to obtain permission from the teaching department to take this course.

This course is capped at 4 groups, and admission cannot be guaranteed. ALL interested students must apply online via LSEForYou (LFY) as per the stipulated procedure and by the deadline, which is 17:00 on Tuesday 29 September 2020. Students should write a brief, one-paragraph rationale for wishing to take the course in the application. Students will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

Course content

This course examines some of the most intractable and violent disputes over sovereignty and national self-determination in the world today, and inquires into the prospects of moving from war to peace through accommodation and compromise. The conflicts studied are drawn from the Middle East (Israel and Palestine), South Asia (Kashmir, Sri Lanka), the Balkans (former Yugoslavia and within it, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo) and the EU area (Northern Ireland, Cyprus). Students are exposed to the specific histories and contexts of these cases but are also encouraged to think comparatively across countries and regions. The course materials are online on Moodle, the LSE's electronic teaching and learning system.

Are disputes arising from conflicting claims to national self-determination inherently of a zero-sum nature, or can they be resolved? If the latter, how? What factors drive conflict at the local level? Which sorts of institutional arrangements might be able to anchor peace settlements? Can we draw useful comparative lessons from the experience of peace processes that have sought or seek to craft solutions to this type of conflict in diverse parts of the contemporary world? What roles can international actors—influential and/or interested foreign states, regional alliances of states, multilateral institutions—play in such processes and their outcomes?


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures totalling a minimum of 24 hours in the Michaelmas Term. Some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. The first lecture is a set-up and introductory session.There will be a reading week in week 6 of the MT for private study and assessment preparation.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to prepare and make one seminar presentation and write one unassessed essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Sumantra Bose, Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus and Sri Lanka (2007); Edward Said, The Question of Palestine (1980); Bernard Wasserstein, Israel and Palestine (2004); John McGarry (ed.), Northern Ireland and the Divided World  (2001); Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (2003); David Hannay, Cyprus: The Search for a Solution (2005); Sumantra Bose, Bosnia after Dayton: Nationalist Partition and International Intervention  (2002); Sumantra Bose, States, Nations, Sovereignty: Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement (1994).


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

A paper of 5,000 words, due in the ST, will determine 100% of the final grade. Students have wide latitude in choosing the topic of their assessed paper, in consultation with the instructor. Students can choose to write on one of the assigned seminar presentation questions, or modify one of those questions, or formulate a research question of their choice.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.9
Merit 57.6
Pass 24.5
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: 35

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills