Building Democracies from Conflict: Violence, Power-Sharing and Institutional Design

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Government
  • Application code SS-IR210
  • Starting TBC
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Please note: This course will not be running as part of the 2021 programme. However, you may be interested in our confirmed courses.

How can we design, build and sustain 'democracies' in places that have been engaged in sustained conflict? 

We will explore societies torn apart by political violence and ethnic conflict.  The main purpose is to diagnose the central problems, and examine what political responses are most appropriate.

Session: TBC
Dates: TBC
Lecturer: Dr Paul Mitchell


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history or law.

Programme structure

1. Intervention and Institutional Engineering: Case Study 1 - Iraq

  • The Politics of Military and Political Intervention
  • Does ‘Iraq’ have a future? Iraq, Kurdistan and Islamic State

2. What is Conflict About? 

  • Nationalism and Ethnicity: Why so many problems?
  • Greed, Grievances and ‘Horizontal Inequalities’

3. Civil Wars

  • What Causes Civil Wars? Why do some last much longer than others?
  • Case Study 2: Multiple Civil Wars in Sudan

4. Terrorism

  • The ‘strategy’ of terrorism
  • Suicide terrorism

5. Simulation and Role Play

  • Game 1: Humanitarian Aid and Civil War
  • Game 2: Simulating Terrorism

6. Power-Sharing and Constitutional Design

  • Theories of power-sharing
  • Critiques of power-sharing

7. Northern Ireland: Case Study 3

  • History – ‘the long war’
  • Ending the conflict and governing a divided society: is NI a model of conflict resolution?

8. Territorial Regulation of Conflict

  • National Self Determination: Partition and Secession
  • Ethno-Federalism and Regional Autonomy

9. Elections in Divided Places

  • Electoral and Party Systems.
  • Transition and the Sequencing of Elections

10. Intervention Revisited

  • The United Nations: peacekeeping missions
  • Peace Agreements: negotiation and implementation

11. Transitional Justice

  • Overview, Trade-offs and Results
  • Case study 4: South Africa and East Timor

12. ‘Arab Springs’ and the Resilience of Authoritarianism.

  • Democratic Transitions in the Middle East?
  • Case Study 5: Contrast Tunisia and Egypt.

Course outcomes

Students will explore societies torn apart by political violence and ethnic conflict. The aim is to diagnose the central problems, and examine what political responses are most appropriate. Informed responses might include: intervention, mediation and peace agreements; power-sharing and constitutional design; territorial management of conflict; elections, party systems and institutions for governing divided societies.


LSE’s Department of Government is home to some of the most internationally respected experts in politics and government, producing influential research that has a global impact on policy. The Department has always been able to take advantage of its prominent position within the London School of Economics and Political Science, the largest and most important European institution specialising solely in the social sciences. The Department has a strongly cosmopolitan character and alumni can be found in the world's leading political science departments, as well as in journalism, commerce, central and local government, and non-governmental organisations globally.

The 2014 Research Assessment Exercise ranked the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs. LSE’s Department of Government ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s government faculty.

Reading materials

There is no set text for this course. Course materials will be distributed in the first lecture

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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