GV4K7      Half Unit
Conflict and Cooperation: Key Debates

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Omar Mcdoom


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Global Politics and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will first be given to students enrolled on the programmes listed above in the Government Department, then other masters programmes in the Government Department, then the programmes listed above in other Departments, and finally other masters programmes by other Departments.

The deadline for applications is 10:00 on Wednesday 22 September 2021. You will be informed of the outcome by 10:00 on Friday 24 September 2021.

Course content

This course is structured around a series of distinct debates that broadly relate to the theme of conflict and cooperation. The debates may be normative or empirical in nature and the course scope is purposely broad to allow the choice of debates to evolve over time and to reflect the evolution in the scholarly literature of salient issues relating to conflict and cooperation.

Debates envisaged for the course may be considered either foundational (more likely to persist over time) and topical (more likely to change over time).

Foundational debates may include:

  • Should governments be permitted to restrict civil liberties in the name of security?
  • What role, if any, does inequality play in the onset of political violence?
  • Should multiculturalism be preserved and promoted in plural societies?
  • How may we distinguish between terrorist organizations and liberation movements?

Topical debates may include:

  • How effective has non-violent resistance been in achieving political change?
  • What are the forces driving the resurgence of nationalism and populism in the world today?
  • What role can Big Data play in preventing and predicting violent conflict?
  • What institutional solutions have worked to keep the peace in post-conflict societies?
  • When is it permissible to kill civilians for a political cause?
  • What is the relationship between ethnic diversity and social cohesion in plural societies?


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course provides a minimum of 20 hours of seminars in the Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus seminars. There will also be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

Formative assessment inolves an annotated bibliography (of 1500 words) evaluating 3-6 sources, which will then be used in the summative long essay.

Indicative reading

  • Conor Gearty: Liberty and Security
  • Chandran Kukatahas: Are There Any Cultural Rights? 
  • Al Qaeda: A statement from Al Qaeda regarding the mandates of the heroes and the legality of the operations in New York and Washington
  • Robert Putnam: E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century
  • Robert Pape: Dying to win: the strategic logic of suicide terrorism
  • Joseph Carens: Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders
  • Donald Horowitz: Ethnic groups in conflict, Chapter 4
  • Daniel Byman: Why Drones Work: The Case for Washington's Weapon of Choice
  • Roland Paris: The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and the Structural Problems of Preventive Humanitarian Intervention


Essay (80%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%) in the LT.

The summative long essay will address one of the course debates. The question will be set by the instructor. The classroom participation will include contributions to an online discussion forum.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication