ASOA15016U Å - CANCELLED - Conflict and Peacemaking in Divided Societies

Volume 2018/2019

BSc/MSc Elective course

Course package (MSc 2015):

Knowledge, organisation and politics.





Although violence and group conflict is hardly new, over the past decades that has followed the end of the Cold War, nationalism and ethnic conflict has replaced ideological competition as the main source of strife within and between nation-states. Violence between ethnic groups, religious communities, and clans has shaken countries and regions across the globe. Most of the violent conflicts taking place in the world today are framed in cultural terms, as ethnic, nationalist, or religious. In many cases, these conflicts have spilled over the borders of states, threatening regional security and, some scholars argue, even world order. Even in the supposed "nation-states" of the "First World," where populations were once thought to be unified by a common national identity, cultural conflict has emerged as a major political issue for example the rise of secessionist movements and an array of right-wing anti-immigrant parties. Throughout the world, minority groups have become increasingly assertive, demanding recognition and rights, while the powerful, seeking to protect their positions, have responded with repression and violence.


The increasing frequency and deadliness of nationalist conflict at the international and the intrastate level, from mass expulsions to state-sponsored genocide, has prompted international and humanitarian interventions that have challenged time-honoured norms of state Sovereignty and its integrity. However, despite widespread recognition amongst intellectuals and policymakers of the virulent resurgence of nationalism, there is a widespread lack of consensus on the meaning and origins of, as well as the management strategies for dealing with, nationalist conflict.


At the same time, international relations have increasingly been shaped by what Samuel Huntington famously termed as the “Clash of Civilization”  and the debate surrounding Huntington's work has received a sense of urgency after the September 11 and  with the so-called War on Terror. Yet, other argued it is poorly understood and instead termed the rise of religious movements and religious inspired conflict or violence as the “Clash of Fundamentalism.” Accordingly the great conflicts of our time are not clashes of civilizations, they are clashes and competitions between different modes of modernity. One emphasized individualism and democratic popular participation, while the other emphasized the importance of communal identity and self-determination. 


This course aims to enable students to:

  • Have knowledge of the emergence and persistence of nationalism as well as the circumstances under which it may become associated with ethnic, religious polarisation and violence in their broader political context on the one hand; and the process of conflict resolution and peace building in deeply divided societies, on the other.
  • Have knowledge of the causes, consequence and responses to civil wars, nationally, regionally and internationally.
  • Develop an integrative understanding of global issues, conflict resolution and peacebuilding theories, research, and practice
  • Be aware of the social and economic situation of plural societies undergoing ethnic, religious polarisation, violence and civil war.

    Lecture Topics (Tentative)

    Week 1 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

    Week 2 Defining Conflict, Peace Violence

    Week 3 Understanding Contemporary Conflict

    Week 4 Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict

    Week 5 The Political Economy of Conflict: the greed and grievance debate

    Week 6 The Causes of Internal Conflict: Structural and Political Factors

    Week 7 Reflecting on roles of religion in conflict and peace

    Week 8 Nationalism as a basis of mass killing and genocidal violence   

    Week 9 Non-Violence civil resistance as a basis for conflict transformation

    Week 10 Containing conflict: Third party mediation and preventive diplomacy    

    Week 11 Containing conflict: Peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention  

    Week 12 Separation as a solution? Partition and Secession

    Week 13 Institutional design and mechanisms of peacemaking

Week 14 Conflict Transformation, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding       

Learning Outcome


On successful completion of this module, you will be expected to be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Possess knowledge about theoretical paradigms informing, nationalism and ethnopolitical conflict and civil wars
  • Should be able to develop a sufficient understanding of different methods of conflict analysis, resolution and transformation.
  • Acquire a deep knowledge about the different ways in which the international community has tried to deal with civil wars and of genocides specifically with the problem of political, moral and legal responsibility as well as different approaches to preventive diplomacy, mediation, humanitarian intervention and reconciliation.
  • Possess knowledge about how to design and carry out a research project.
  • Write an independently researched essay on a conflict and peace studies related topic


  • a sophisticated appreciation of current issues in the area of global peace, security and the challenges to plural societies and the ability to evaluate a range of different approaches to the study of conflict resolution, peace studies.
  • The ability to undertake and present an independent piece of research in Conflict and Peace Studies
  • The capacity to gather, retrieve and synthesize information from a number of different sources in order to understand the complexities of issues in Conflict and Peace Studies
  • The ablity to undertake and present an independent piece of research in conflict and peace studies

Professional and career development skills

Syllabus will be available in Absalon before the classes begins. login at  Also available upon request.

There are no prerequisites, other than a keen interest in Conflict resolution and Peacebulding
Learning/Teaching Methods
Teaching will take the form of lectures, student presentations and class discussions based on the assigned readings
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Course Preparation
  • 41
  • Exam Preparation
  • 40
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 97
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback on research proposal. To provide you with an opportunity to develop the topic identified in your initial research proposal into a comprehensive, academic paper.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Exam registration requirements

Sociology students must be enrolled under MSc Curriculum 2015 to take this exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Find more information on your study page at KUnet.
Exchange students and Danish full degree guest students please see the homepage of Sociology; and


At re-exam, the form of examination is the same as ordinary exam.
If the form of examination is ”active participation” the re-examination form is always “free written take-home essay”.

Criteria for exam assesment

Please see the learning outcome.