Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2017/18 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide advanced knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to religion, culture and conflict in comparative and global perspective
  • To provide advanced knowledge of a range of historical processes relating to religion, culture and conflict with reference to different regions of the world
  • To enable students to understand the multiple ways in which religious identities, institutions and practices can lead to social and political conflict or conduce to conflict prevention, mediation or resolution.
  • To enable students to critically analyse, reflect on and assess historical or contemporary cases of conflict, conflict prevention, conflict intervention or post-conflict reconstruction in which religion plays a relevant part.
  • To provide conceptual and methodological tools for incorporating or dealing with cultural and religious perspectives in conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction.


  • The module will focus on the degree to which and forms whereby culture and religion play crucial roles as contexts, sources of meanings, values and practices, and mobilising agents and/or institutions in triggering, driving and/or countering outbreaks of conflict. It will explore conflict as a socio-political phenomenon rather than at the interpersonal level. Special attention will be given to the relational dimension of the constitution and transformation of social identities, which helps us to understand why and how cultural and religious difference can be important variables in understanding conflict.
  • The debate will be informed by a global, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the topic that will look into regions, issues or religions as unities of analysis. At least two regions will be covered, and studied from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. Within each region the most salient cultural and/or religious identities will be identified and studied in their relational setting.
  • The course will be organised in five parts, covering respectively the following themes: 1. Theorising the link between religion, culture and socio-political conflict; 2. Exploring historical patterns of religion, culture and socio-political conflict; 3. Religion as a driver of antagonism, conflict and violence; 4. Religion as an agent of conflict prevention, mediation, resolution and reconciliation; 5. Case studies or simulation of situations of intervention in conflict.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • To identify and explain, demonstrating interdisciplinary awareness, key approaches to religion, culture and conflict;
  • To explain the various forms in which cultural and religious identity form part of the context of conflict, conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction, drawing from historical and contemporary cases;
  • To identify how religion and culture affect the dynamics of defence, development and diplomacy
  • To relate the theoretical and interpretive contributions of current research to specific debates or cases of conflict in terms of the role played by religion and culture within them, and reflect critically on the application of research outcomes to practical situations.
  • 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 religion and culture in conflict, the impact of our choice of methodology and conceptual framework on our understanding of religion, culture and conflict and vice versa, and in particular to understand the cultural specificity of and assumptions embedded in the notions of religion and culture.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • To identify, analyse and evaluate different academic approaches to religion, culture and conflict;
  • To appraise the importance of socio-cultural and historical context to understanding the various forms in which religion and culture impact on conflictive or antagonistic social and political situations;
  • 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:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • 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 convenor, 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 convenor), 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 linke 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 discussion and/or role play, the knowledge, analytical pointed 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 werll 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 2 2 days 18
Preparation and Reading Term 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