GV4E3      Half Unit
Statebuilding and Self-Determination in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

This information is for the 2022/23 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 two groups. The course is available with permission as an outside option subject to space (and where regulations permit).

Course content

This course provides a theoretically informed assessment and critique of the current debates on the concepts of state-building and self-determination, focusing on a range of conflict cases in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. It seeks to explain why some state-building projects and claims to self-determination and secession have succeeded while others are failing or have failed to achieve international recognition, or are otherwise seen as problematical cases. The concepts lie at the intersection of politics and law, and the focus in this course is on the politics and policies. The first two weeks deal with the conceptual debates and theories and practices in state-building and self-determination, examining the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and the associated violent conflicts. The concepts are  located in a context of historical development during and after the Cold War, their relationship to democracy and nationalism, and the changes after the collapse of communism. The rest of the course explores the diverse applications of the concepts in weekly case studies drawn from the former Soviet space and former Yugoslavia. The cases include violent conflicts over self-determination and secession, the management of multiethnicity in statebuilding, and the role of international institutions and external intervention in statebuilding and self-determination. The cases considered include many of the so-called “frozen conflicts” and several of the wars in the region: Chechnya, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Estonia and Latvia. 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 per group in the Lent Term (including a 1 hour session for a Q&A on preparation of the summative essay). There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

One essay of 1,500 words, to be on a topic that differs from the summative essay. Students must also contribute to a team presentation.

Indicative reading

Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights. Rev. ed. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996; Jörg Fisch, The Right of Self-Determination of Peoples: The Domestication of an Illusion. Cambridge University Press, 2015; Fernando R. Teson, The Theory of Self-Determination. Cambridge University Press, 2017; Philip G. Roeder and Donald Rothchild eds, Sustainable Peace. Power and Democracy after Civil Wars, Cornell University Press, 2005; Timothy D. Sisk, Statebuilding: Consolidating Peace after Civil War. Polity, 2013; Roland Paris, and Timothy D. Sisk, The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations. Routledge, 2009; James Hughes, Chechnya. From Nationalism to Jihad, University of Pennsylvania Press, 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, Empire in Denial. The Politics of State-Building, Pluto, 2006; Roberto Belloni, State building and international intervention in Bosnia, Routledge, 2007;  Marc Weller, Contested Statehood: Kosovo’s Struggle for Independence. Oxford University Press, 2009; Marc Weller, Settling Self-Determination Disputes: Complex Power-Sharing in Theory and Practice. Nijhoff, 2008; Gwendolyn Sasse, The Crimea Question. Identity, Transition and Conflict, Harvard University Press, 2007.


Essay (100%, 5000 words).

to be submitted early in the Summer Term.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 48.6
Merit 51.4
Pass 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication