GV4E3      Half Unit
Democratisation, Conflict and Statebuilding

This information is for the 2020/21 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 29 September 2020. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

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.


This course provides a combination of seminars and lectures totalling 31 hours in the Lent Term (including a 1 hour lecture for essay discussion). This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

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; Roberto Belloni, State building and international intervention in Bosnia, Routledge, 2007.


Essay (100%, 5000 words).

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: 15

Average class size 2019/20: 15

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication