Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW40430: The Strategy of Conflict

Department: Law

LAW40430: The Strategy of Conflict

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap
Tied to M1K116
Tied to M1K316
Tied to M1K216
Tied to M1K416
Tied to M1K516


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is to introduce postgraduate students to a wide range of work in decision theory, game theory, cognitive psychology, and behavioural law and economics, and to demonstrate how insights developed from this work can be applied to the kinds of conflict situations in which lawyers are typically called to play a part, as well as to more general problems of legal and political philosophy, international and domestic order, and institutional design.


  • decision theory, heuristics, and biases in human decision making under uncertainty;
  • game theory and strategic reasoning;
  • behavioural law and economics and theories of human nature;
  • the strains of commitment;
  • specific strategic analysis of conflicts, family law conflicts, business conflicts, and litigation;
  • the development of strategies for the resolution of same;
  • the application of strategic analysis to the resolution of selected problems within legal and political philosophy, international relations, and institutional design.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have a thorough understanding of basic game theory, decision theory, and relevent associated work on human decision making, risk analysis, and judgement under uncertainty.
  • Understand how these theoretical models can also be applied both to analyze and to help solve selected larger social problems within legal and political philosophy,international relations, and institutional design.
  • Understand the nature of and defend themselves and the parties they represent against strategic manipulation in conflict situations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • be able to analyse a wide variety of real-world conflict situations accordingly to their game theoretic structure;
  • be able to indentify the heuristics and biases that are likely to be applied by the participants in these situations;
  • to be able to apply insights from these theoretical models towards the management and resolution of a wide variety of real-world conflict situations in which lawyers typically play a part.
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Roughly the first half of the module will consist of a series of lectures, through which students will be introduced to the theoretical underpinnings of the topic. Lectures are the most suitable method for dissemination of this material since the majority of this material will be largely unfamilier to most students both in form and content. Having received a solid introduction to this material through lecture, students will then be able to intelligently participate in the more open discussions that will charactorize the remainder of the module.
  • The remainder of the module will be by seminar. These will focus on a variety of different types of real-world conflict situations to which the various insights from our more theoretical analysis of the topic can be applied and discussed. To ensure that a sufficient variety of conflict situations are studies, we will focus on at least four different types of conflicts. These will be darwn from among the following areas: international conflicts, labour conflicts, business conflicts, family law conflicts, social order conflict, and litigation.
  • Assessment will be by way of a summative essay and a final written examination. The summative essay will be designed to allow students to analyze a single conflict situation in depth. The final written examination will be designed to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of the various fundamental concepts studies in the module and to test their ability to apply these concepts to particular conflict situations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Seminars 7 Weekly 2 hours 14
Preparation and reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessed Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University