Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module SGIA43815: Development in Conflict

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA43815: Development in Conflict

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore current thinking and approaches by state and non-state actors in formulating development programmes in conflict situations;
  • To critically explore the role of development in conflict, conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction;
  • To consider the impact of development practices on state structures, society and the international system and how the former are themselves shaped by state structures, society and the international system;
  • To analyse the interplay between development, defence and diplomacy in conflict situations, and in particular explore such tensions as between human security and national security frameworks, between military/political and developmental goals, between state-building and civil society development, and between international and local cultural/religious norms and practices.


  • During the 1990’s humanitarian agencies began to seriously engage with the fact that relief and development initiatives can have an impact on, and be influenced by, the conflict dynamics within which they operate. Researchers, donors and humanitarian agencies acknowledged that where violent conflict exists, it is a key reason for poverty and underdevelopment. The ‘Band Aid’ approach of the past needed to be supplanted by more proactive interventions which tackled the dynamics and causes of conflict, as well as trying to deliver emergency relief and ‘traditional’ development work. However, development interventions themselves were seen to affect the dynamics of conflict, at times prolonging or intensifying it. In addition, development and military goals were often in tension with each other. Major donors and governments wanted to understand more clearly the effects that their development activities had on peace and conflict – for example the World Bank made ‘peace and social harmony’ an integral component of its approach – and increasingly funded programmes linking conflict reduction, development and peace building. This elective will explore current thinking and approaches – both at policy and operational level – by state and non-state actors in formulating development programmes in conflict situations. It will look at the role of development in conflict, conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction; the interplay between development, defence and diplomacy; the role of culture and religion in development; and the relationship between development, human security, civil society and state-building. It will situate debates about development and conflict within the literature on the international system and practices of state development.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To identify and explain, demonstrating interdisciplinary awareness, key approaches, ranging from orthodox to critical, to development in conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction
  • To understand how development policies and practices are shaped by, and impact on, state structures, society and the international system;
  • To understand and critically evaluate the main explanatory frameworks for explaining the linkages between development, conflict, state-building and civil society;
  • To apply these explanatory frameworks to historical and contemporary cases;
  • To situate development within the wider context of conflict and conflict studies, and to look at development through the lenses of defence, development and diplomacy perspectives in the phases of conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction;
  • To apply a selection of conceptual and methodological tools acquired through the theoretical inputs and study of cases to practical situations.
  • To understand the methodologies used to study terrorism and counter-terrorism, the impact of our choice of methodology and conceptual framework on our understanding of terrorism and counter-terrorism and vice versa, and in particular to understand the cultural specificity of and assumptions embedded in the notions of terrorism and counter-terrorism.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To identify, analyse and evaluate different academic approaches to development in conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction and to understand how these approaches are shaped by, and impact on, prevailing paradigms and power structures;
  • To appraise the importance of socio-cultural and historical context to understanding the various forms of development practices and their impact on local societies and power structures (both formal and informal);
  • To apply some of the studied approaches and advanced theoretical models to the evaluation of current local and global issues, to interpret and analyse empirical data at an advanced level and according to competing explanatory frameworks, and to recognise the impact of a chosen conceptual framework on one’s research findings;
  • To engage in research projects at MA level in the subjects of religion, culture and conflict.
Key Skills:
  • To construct and synthesise arguments critically for both oral and written presentation from different sources of material, including material delivered orally and in reports and essays.
  • To demonstrate an independent approach to learning, thinking (self-)critically and creatively, and problem-solving;
  • To use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources;
  • To participate in and reflect on collaborative group work;
  • To formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English in an effective way, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing and written to high academic standards;
  • To demonstrate effective time management

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

  • The module will be delivered as a block in workshop format over a period of an evening and two full consecutive days, and will involve a mixture of lectures, short presentations, discussion and small group work, and a role play or oral presentation based on real or constructed cases.
  • Summative assessment will include a pre-workshop article review or role briefing, and a post-workshop module essay, report or policy document. Which pre- and in-workshop assessments are chosen is dependent on the module convener, so as to maximise flexibility for the interdisciplinary team delivering the programme. Which post-workshop assessment is selected is in the hands of students (in consultation with the module convener), so as to maximise flexibility with a view to the wide range of professional backgrounds and needs students attending the course are expected to have. The post-workshop assignment has to be directly linked to one of the themes discussed during the workshop. The pre-workshop assignment is designed to provide students with a focused task to prepare them, through self-guided learning, for the workshop’s discussions and/or role play, the knowledge, analytical pointers and literature advice for which will be provided through a virtual induction.
  • Formative assessment is intended to develop students' oral communication and academic writing skills, as well as effective time management. Students will receive continuing formative feedback in seminar and group discussions. They will receive formal formative feedback on their role play or oral presentation in a debriefing session after the event, in which students’ performances will be discussed in view of the learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 1 Term 1 or 2 2 days 18
Preparation and reading Term 1 or 2 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Role Brief or Article Review 1000 words 30%
Report or Module Essay or Policy Document 2500 words 70%

Formative Assessment:

Role play or oral presentations; continuing feedback in seminar and group discussions.

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