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PEAC501 Theories of Peace and Conflict

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

An advanced introduction to the study of the empirically based, theoretical debates on the micro and macro causes of violence and armed conflict, and the potential and challenges of peacebuilding.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a core course for students enrolled in the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies degree. The paper will provide an advanced, in-depth introduction to the key theoretical and empirical debates in peace and conflict studies. PEAC 501 introduces students to the central problematics of peace and conflict studies. It explores theoretical explanations for forms of organised violence and peace in the international system and gives us a critical introduction to post-conflict peace building and alternatives to the use of force and violence.

Paper title Theories of Peace and Conflict
Paper code PEAC501
Subject Peace and Conflict Studies
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,047.25
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,209.25

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PEAC 401
Limited to
Suitable for graduates of all disciplines interested in the theoretical framework of peace and conflict studies and the key debates taking place in this discipline.
Teaching staff

Please contact the Centre for confirmation.

Paper Structure

The lectures will cover four dimensions of peace and conflict studies:

  • Concepts and Theories of Peace
  • Forms and the Causes of Armed Conflict, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
  • Research Methodology in Peace Studies

The paper also critically assesses popular explanations for the onset and dynamics of violent conflict from religion to capitalism, climate change and gender. Students will develop skills in critical thinking with a number of simulations and hands-on data analysis exercises.

Course Plan:

  1. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies
  2. Planning a Research Project I
  3. Conflict Analysis: Theories of Organised Violence
  4. Identity and Violence
  5. Economics and War
  6. Planning a Research Project II
  7. Humanitarian Intervention and International Peacekeeping
  8. Negotiations and Dialogue: A Simulation
  9. Conflict Resolution and Third-Party Mediation
  10. Post-conflict Peacebuilding
  11. Conflict Transformation and Bottom-up Approaches
  12. Civilian Initiatives for Peace
  13. Planning a Research Project III

The assessment for this paper is intended to gauge, as fairly as possible, the extent to which students have mastered the key concepts, content and skills stressed in the paper. The student's final grade will be based on completion of the following tasks:

  • Student Presentations 10%
  • Reading Quizzes 10%
  • Review Essay 40%
  • Research Essay 40%
Teaching Arrangements
Each 3-hour seminar is a combination of lecture, discussion and reflection.
There is no core textbook for this paper. A range of readings will be drawn upon in class. Students are expected to have read the 3-5 set readings for each week and are encouraged to also read from the recommended readings list. Students are also encouraged to relate the week's readings to current events. Readings for essays and assignments will be expected to go beyond the reading lists provided here. Students should be prepared to explain and critically analyse the key arguments of readings in the class.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will develop knowledge and skills on
  • The main theories and approaches in the field of peace and conflict research
  • The key lines of debate on the causes and resolution of conflict and contemporary peacemaking and peacebuilding practice
  • Innovative and/or alternative models of conflict resolution and peacebuilding
  • The key elements of research methodology
  • Argumentation, analytical, writing, collaboration and presentational skills
  • Making theoretically informed and empirically based arguments and relating theoretical models to contemporary issues of peace and conflict

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Thursday 09:00-11:50 9, 11-12, 18-22
Friday 14:00-16:50 10