ASTK12328U SUMMER: State-Building and War-Making in the Contemporary Developing World

Volume 2014/2015

Master level: 7.5 ECTS 
Bachelor level: 10 ECTS 


This course examines the relationship between armed conflict and state fragility in various settings in the contemporary developing world. Surveying different cases and contexts, the course focuses on the role of state and non-state actors, along with the various the drivers of communal conflict, the historical dimensions of the multifaceted state-building processes, and the impact of the postcolonial situation. Particular attention will be paid to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as those in Sub- Saharan Africa. The purpose of the course is to equip students with an understanding of the complex causes, characteristics, manifestations of, and the relationships between conflict and state fragility in the developing world and its cross-cutting relations to the challenges of the contemporary international system.

Competency description:

The course will provide invaluable skills and knowledge for anyone seeking to work on the issues of state weakness and failure and gain the practical ability to analyze the impact of civil conflict and state fragility. Understanding these dynamics is invaluable for a wide range of careers, whether working in academia, for international agencies, multilateral organizations, non-profit organizations, corporations, or governments.

Learning Outcome

‘The objective of the course/seminar is to enable the students to:

  • Describe collapsed / failed / fragile / weak states.
  • Present the key theoretical orientations concerning how state collapse.
  • Apply the theories to actual cases.
  • Compare and analyze the main theoretical trends relating to: 1) state weakness and failure, 2) state reconstruction
  • Combine and synthesize contributions to the academic debate on the concepts of state failure and weakness and the relationship with civil conflict.
  • Evaluate the validity of the various theorists’ arguments.
  • William Reno, Warlord Politics and African States, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Reiner Press, 1998).


  • Jean-Francois Bayart, Stephen Ellis an Beatrice Hibou, Criminalization of the State in Africa, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). 


  • Robert Bates, When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2008).


  • Seth Kaplan, Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008).


  • Additional readings will be made available on online.
This course will combine several types of instruction and collaborative learning activities. This will include lectures, videos, group discussions/activities, as well as student presentations.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner