Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SGIA48815: Contemporary Challenges in United Nations Peacekeeping

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA48815: Contemporary Challenges in United Nations Peacekeeping

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to L2K609, L2K909


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explain the evolution of peacekeeping and the principles underpinning United Nations Peacekeeping from legal, political and military perspectives.
  • To explore the theory and practice of United Nations peacekeeping based on current operations.
  • To analyse current challenges facing United Nations Peacekeeping and the factors which impact the success of a peacekeeping mission.


  • Peacekeeping is one of the most visible and high-profile tools used by the United Nations to support transitions from conflict to peace and to respond to threats to international peace and security. The module is strongly praxis based, considering both theory and practice of peacekeeping. It offers a practical and multi-disciplinary approach that includes the legal, political and military aspects of peacekeeping, situating these within the current contexts in which peacekeepers are deployed.
  • This module will
  • • Explore the evolution of United Nations peacekeeping,
  • • Analyse current debates about the role and effectiveness of peacekeeping and
  • • Examine challenges faced by UN peacekeeping missions at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.
  • Topics covered will include:
  • • The history and evolution of UN peacekeeping;
  • • The principles of UN peacekeeping;
  • • Multi-dimensional and military approaches to peacekeeping;
  • • The protection of civilians;
  • • Peacekeeping and politics and adapting peacekeeping to new contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have, by the end of the module,
  • • Knowledge of both the theory and practical realities of United Nations peacekeeping and its role in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • • Ability to explain and analyse current issues and challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will, by the end of the module,
  • • Apply subject-related knowledge and theory to the evaluation of relevant local and global issues.
  • • Apply a multi-disciplinary analysis to questions of international peace and security and the role of UN peacekeeping.
  • • Use problem-solving and critical analysis skills to address practical issues relating to international interventions in conflict-affected states.
  • • engage in research projects at MSc level relating to UN peacekeeping
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module,
  • • An ability to construct a critical argument for both oral and written presentation from different sources, including material delivered orally and in an article review, report or policy document.
  • • An independent approach to learning, critical thinking and creative problem-solving.
  • • The use of sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources.
  • • An ability to work cooperatively and constructively in group exercises and role plays.
  • • The ability to formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing and written to high academic standards.
  • • Effective time management

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

  • This module will be delivered in workshop style – that is it will be participatory, interactive and include both theory and practice. During the module students will be given mini-lectures and briefings and will be expected to make presentations, participate in small group work and activities including scenario-based exercises. To prepare in advance for the module students will be advised on required reading.
  • • Summative assessment will include a pre-seminar assignment (pre-workshop) and a post-workshop evaluation of current challenges. The guiding questions for the essay are based on the themes discussed during the workshop. The pre-course essay is designed to provide students with a focused task to prepare them, through self-guided learning, for the workshop’s discussions as well as case study analysis.
  • • Assessment is intended to develop students' analytical and academic writing skills. Students will receive continuing formative feedback in seminar and group discussions during the course of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 1 Epiphany term 2 days 15
Preparation and Reading 135
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Pre-Course Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Article Review 1000 100%
Component: Post-course Essay Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 2500 100%

Formative Assessment:

The course will be heavily interactive and will include student presentations and discussions, practical exercises and role play based on case-studies and scenarios. Students will be given ongoing feedback on these exercises and will have the opportunity to seek clarification and ask further questions on the material arising from these activities throughout the course.

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