IR490      Half Unit
The Strategy of Conflict in International Relations

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Anna Getmansky CBG 8.05


This course is available on the 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) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option.

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

Course content

This course introduces students to recent literature on conflict onset, management, and resolution, with particular focus on rational-choice theories and simple game-theoretic concepts. In addition, students will have opportunities to apply this knowledge to specific cases of international conflict.

While lectures and reading material focus on theories and examples of conflicts, during class discussions students will apply this knowledge to particular conflicts. Class activities will focus on individual presentations, work in small groups, and simulation of decision making in conflicts.

The main goal of the course is to experience how IR theories and concepts can be applied to decision-making in somewhat realistic scenarios.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the WT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will provide an 800-word outline of their assessed essay by the end of Week 7.

Indicative reading

  • Thomas Schelling. Arms and Influence (Yale University Press 2008)
  • Sara McLaughlin Mitchell and John A. Vasquez (eds.), What Do We Know About War? (Rowman & Littlefield 2021)
  • Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph Siverson, and James Morrow, The Logic of Political Survival (MIT 2003)
  • Joshua Kertzer, Resolve in International Politics (Princeton University Press 2016)
  • Laia Balcells, Rivalry and Revenge (Cambridge University Press 2017)
  • Aila Matanock, Electing Peace (Cambridge University Press 2017)
  • Agnia Grigas, Beyond Crimea (Yale University Press 2016)


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST Week 1.

Students will select their 4000-word essay topic and essay question from a list provided by the course convenor in the WT. 

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2022/23: 43

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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