Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SGIA42615: Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA42615: Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap
Tied to L2K609
Tied to L2K909


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to discuss, at an advanced level, frameworks and concepts underpinning approaches to the prevention of violent conflict and the promotion of sustainable peace from the macro to micro levels of intervention.


  • Indicative module content typically includes: early warning and rapid response; the prevention strategies of Governments, the UN and regional security organisations; state stabilisation; the role of civil society; the ‘right of intervention’ and the ‘responsibility to protect’ in response to human rights abuses; the laws of war and conflict and international humanitarian law; the role of men and women in building sustainable peace; political, economic, historical, religious, and cultural factors as drivers of conflict; media and education in conflict prevention; evelopment and aid conditionality.
  • Some of these issues will be referred back to and investigated in more depth in other core and optional modules.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an advanced knowledge of the key concepts and theories related to conflict prevention, sustainable peace and security which are political, security and resource driven and those motivated by humanitarian concerns, and how these are inter-related.
  • an advanced knowledge of contemporary key policy and strategy debates and issues related to conflict prevention, state-stabilisation, and the structure of sustainable peace.
  • an understanding of the methodologies used to study conflict prevention and sustainable peace processes, and of the impact of our choice of methodology and conceptual framework on our understanding of conflict and negotiations, and vice versa.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • to analyse conflicts and design approaches for conflict prevention and sustainable peace at an advanced level
  • to engage in research projects at MA level in the subject of conflict analysis and principled negotiation
  • to apply subject related knowledge 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
Key Skills:
  • to demonstrate an ability to construct argument critically for both oral and written presentation from different sources of material, including material delivered orally and in an article review, report or policy document.
  • to demonstrate an independent approach to learning, critical thinking and creative problem-solving.
  • to use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources.
  • to demonstrate an ability to work cooperatively and constructively in group exercises and role plays
  • to formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing and written to high academic standard
  • to demonstrate effective time management.

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

  • Students will be taught and learn through self-guided learning, lectures, class discussion, and seminars.
  • Students are taught through one-hour lectures, followed by one-hour seminars. Each lecture will introduce the students to the key theoretical approaches or data relevant to the theme of the lecture. The lectures will be tailored to accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts and to make sure that students approach subsequent seminars with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
  • The lectures will be followed by one-hour seminars during which students are encouraged to explore the lecture content in greater detail and to identify areas in which they require particular guidance, for example on further reading. The seminars will enable students to develop their abilities to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. Class discussion encourages background reading, contributing to the students’ independent learning. It will further allow students the opportunity to exchange ideas, to explore issues and arguments that interest or concern them in greater depth, and to receive feedback from both the group and the lecturer on their own arguments and understanding. Class discussions and seminar tutor interventions will be one of the forms of formative feedback students receive on this module, and students will be made aware of this at the start of the module.
  • A 3,000 word essay will form the assessed element of the module. Summative assessment by essay formally tests the skills developed throughout the course. The essay, to be submitted at the end of teaching, tests the ability to plan a substantial piece of work, identifying and retrieving sources and selecting and displaying appropriate subject specific knowledge and understanding. It tests the ability to develop an extended discussion which utilises concepts and examines competing interpretation and analysis. It also develops key skills in sustaining effective written communication and information presentation to high scholarly standards. It enables students to demonstrate that they have sufficient subject knowledge to meet the assessment criteria, that they have achieved the subject skills and that they have acquired the module’s key skills. In particular, summative essays test the acquisition of knowledge through independent learning and the ability to apply it in critical argument in relation to a specific question. They furthermore help students to develop time management skills by working to a deadline, as well as the ability to seek out and critically use relevant data sources. The summative assessment will test skills of synthesis, analysis and critical evaluation with reference to material drawn from the module.
  • To help students with essay writing (especially those who may have not written an academic essay for some time) students will be offered the opportunity to attend ‘essay surgeries’ in term 1 in which they can discuss the structure and content of their first essay with members of the MA Programme staff. This will constitute an element of their formative feedback. Guidelines will also be provided in the MA Handbook. In addition, any of the Optional Modules students are expected to take in term 1 will include two types of written summatively assessed work, starting with one of a 1,000 words and progressing to one of 2,500 words, both of which will provide them with detailed feedback relatively early on in the programme.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Preparation, reading, assessments 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

In addition to continuing feedback in seminars, students will be offered the opportunity to attend ‘essay surgeries’ in term 1 in which they can discuss the structure and content of their first essay with members of the MSc Programme staff.

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