GV4K7      Half Unit
Conflict and Cooperation: Key Debates

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Omar Mcdoom


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics), MSc in Political Science (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.

This course is controlled access (it is capped). Priority will first be given to students enrolled on the programmes listed above in the Department of Government, then other masters programmes in the Department of Government, then the programmes listed above in other Departments, and finally other masters programmes by other Departments.

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?


This course provides a minimum of 20 hours of seminars in the Autumn Term. There will also be a reading week in AT Week 6.

Formative coursework

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

Formative assessment inolves an annotated bibliography (of 1000 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).
Class participation (20%) in the AT.

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.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2022/23: 31

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: 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

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication