Conflict and Peacebuilding

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Rampton


This course is available on the MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Political Science (Global Politics) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high.


A basic background knowledge of the subject would be an advantage.

Course content

This course is intended for those interested in theoretical and practical approaches to the question of peace, the problems of war, conflict and violence, and responses to them particularly in the form of liberal peacebuilding  and statebuilding. The course is divided into three unequal but interconnected parts. The first part examines ideas and debates about the concepts, causes, contexts, dynamics and representations of conflict, violence and war. The second explores and problematises the concept of peace and the nature, meanings and goals of peace and peacebuilding. This leads into the third section which is concerned with a critical engagement with the range of international responses to conflict associated with the discourses and practices of liberal peacebuilding and statebuilding. The seminars explore the nexus between theory and practice. Although the course and its readings are mainly theoretical and conceptual rather than empirical, students are encouraged to apply the ideas to actual cases, past and present. The course reading list has been selected in order to explore the contentions between mainstream and critical (e.g. feminist, postcolonial and poststructural) perspectives.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Autumn and Winter Term. Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

The course teaching includes film showings linked to some of the lecture themes, followed by a discussion session. These are normally delivered in-person but may occasionally involve online screening and discussion sessions.

Formative coursework

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

The AT formative essay up to 2,000 words. The WT essay outline up to 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Mark Duffield Global Governance and the New Wars (Zed Books 2014).

Sinisa Malesevic The Sociology of War and Violence (Cambridge University Press 2010).

Edward Newman and Karl DeRouen (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Civil Wars (Routledge, 2016).

Gëzim Visoka Peace Figuration after International Intervention: Intentions, Events and Consequences of Liberal Peacebuilding (Routledge 2018)

Jacob Bercovitch, Victor Kremenyuk and William Zartman (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Conflict Resolution (Sage Publications, 2009)

Hugh Miall, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Tom Woodhouse, Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts, 3rd ed (Polity, 2011).

Oliver Richmond (ed.) Palgrave Advances in Peacebuilding: Critical Developments and Approaches (Palgrave MacMillan UK 2010).



Essay (40%, 2500 words) in the WT.
Essay (60%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19
Merit 67.3
Pass 12.2
Fail 1.4

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2022/23: 60

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One 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

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