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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA42915: Post-Conflict Reconstruction and State-Building

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to L2K609 Defence, Development and Diplomacy


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To look at the interplay between defence, development and diplomacy in the phase of post-conflict reconstruction.
  • To study, at an advanced level, the dynamics of post-conflict reconstruction in the military/security, political, legal/ethical, socio-economic/developmental and societal/cultural spheres, and the way these spheres intersect and affect each other.
  • To examine the impact of post-conflict reconstruction practices (such as, for instance, transitional justice models, security sector reform and electoral reform) on state structures, society (including armed non-state actors) and the international system and how post-conflict reconstruction practices are themselves shaped by the international system, state structures and society (of both the target state and the state of origin).
  • To situate the dynamics of post-conflict reconstruction in the context of the wider literature on conflict.


  • This module will look at the interplay between defence, development and diplomacy in the phase of post-conflict reconstruction. This module approaches state-building predominantly from a top-down perspective, although close attention will be given to the role of civil society in state-building and the impact of state-building on society. The module will look at a number of areas of operation and the way they interact such as: military capacity and the security sector; political structures; legal and ethical structures; development and socio-economic factors; and society and culture. In all these, the module will consider the interaction and possible tension between local and international, civil and military, and state and non-state actors, and situate state-building within the context of the international system and its historical legacies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have, by the end of the module,
  • An advanced understanding of contemporary key academic, policy and strategy debates and issues related to defence, development and diplomacy relating to conflict and conflict intervention.
  • An advanced understanding of the impact of key conflict intervention practices on the (local) state, society and the international system, and how conflict intervention practices are themselves shaped by the international system, state structures and society (of both the target state and the state of origin).
  • Advanced knowledge of the dynamic interaction between conflict intervention practices and conflict dynamics.
  • An understanding of how post-conflict reconstruction practices relate to the wider literature on conflict, conflict prevention and conflict intervention.
  • An understanding of how the taught elements are operationally applicable in situations of tension and conflict.
  • An understanding of the methodologies used to study conflict, and of the impact of our choice of methodology and conceptual framework on our understanding of conflict and vice versa.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module;
  • to understand the relationship between negotiation and peace processes
  • to understand and design post-conflict reconstruction practices which integrate defence, development and diplomacy perspectives.
  • to situate post-conflict reconstruction practices within the broader dynamics and study of conflict.
  • to engage in research projects at MSc level in the subjects of defence, development and diplomacy (broadly conceived) with a particular focus on post-conflict reconstruction.
  • 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:
  • Students will be able, by the end of the module;
  • 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 reports and/or essays.
  • to demonstrate an independent approach to learning, thinking (self-)critically and creatively, and problem-solving.
  • to use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management using an array of print and digital resources.
  • to demonstrate an 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.
  • 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 in through one-hour lectures, followed directly by one-hour seminars that combine different teaching approaches among them lectures, seminars, student presentations, discussions, and role-plays. Each lecture will introduce students to key theoretical approaches and accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts.
  • The seminars encourage students to explore the module content in detail and guide students through required and further readings. The sessions will enable students to develop their ability to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. Occasionally, seminar groups will be combined into larger two-hour sessions to accommodate specific activities. Class discussion encourages background reading, contributing to students’ independent learning. It will further allow students 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 the main form 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 specific knowledge to meet the assessment criteria, that they have achieved the subject specific 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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 Weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 Weekly 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will take the form of continuing feedback in seminars.

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