We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA42515: Defence, Development and Diplomacy in Conflict: Evolving Actors, Factors and Paradigms

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20
Tied to L2K609 Defence, Development and Diplomacy
Tied to L2K909 Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the key concepts around which the two MA programmes revolve – defence, development and diplomacy, and conflict, peace and security – as well as the cross-cutting themes running through the MAs – the interaction between state and non-state actors; the interplay between local and transnational phenomena; the interplay between ideas, identity, gender, interests and structures; the role of law and ethics; the relationship between theory and practice.
  • To situate these concepts within the broader historical context of changing political structures, actors, conventions and paradigms.
  • To equip students with the basic conceptual tools to understand both the changing nature of conflict and the actors participating in it, and the evolution of the paradigms with which we seek to understand conflict.


  • Module 1 will introduce students to the key concepts around which the two MA programmes revolve – defence, development and diplomacy, and conflict, peace and security. It will situate these concepts in the broader historical context of changing political structures, actors, conventions and paradigms, and will equip students with the conceptual tools to understand both the changing nature of conflict and the actors participating in it, and the evolution of the paradigms with which we seek to understand conflict. Indicative typical content includes such themes as: the evolution of conflict, defence strategies and diplomacy; the evolution of development and security in relation to conflict; the impact of the evolution of the state and the international system on conflict; the drivers and dynamics of conflict (with a special focus on asymmetric and transnational conflicts); the role of law, human rights and ethics in conflict; the impact of aid and development on conflict; the role of religion, identity and culture in conflict and conflict intervention. The themes raised in this module will be referred back to and investigated in more depth in Modules 2, 3a/b, 4a/b and 5. The Optional Modules will similarly pick up on some of the themes raised in this module, providing more specialist knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced knowledge of the key concepts, theories and debates related to defence, development and diplomacy in conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction;
  • Understanding of how key concepts and practices are shaped by, and impact upon, changes in state structures, society and the international system (both material and ideational);
  • Understanding of how the different paradigms and practices of defence, development and diplomacy, and of conflict prevention, sustainable peace and security differ, overlap and interact and how their interaction can be contradictory and/or complementary;
  • 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:
  • to critically analyse conflicts and develop approaches for conflict prevention, conflict intervention and post-conflict reconstruction which integrate defence, development and diplomacy perspectives;
  • to situate the key concepts and practices discussed within their broader political, socio-cultural and historical context;
  • to engage in research projects at MA level in the subjects of defence, development and diplomacy (broadly conceived);
  • 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:
  • 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, 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 through one-hour lectures, followed by one-hour seminars. Each lecture will introduce the students to the key theoretical approaches or data relevant to the theme of the lecture. The lectures will be tailored to accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts and to make sure that students approach subsequent seminars with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
  • The lectures will be followed by one-hour seminars during which students are encouraged to explore the lecture content in greater detail and to identify areas in which they require particular guidance, for example on further reading. The seminars will enable students to develop their abilities to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. Class discussion encourages background reading, contributing to the students’ independent learning. It will further allow students the opportunity 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.
  • Students will be assessed by a 3,000 word essay which gives students the opportunity to engage in-depth with a course topic.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Preparation, reading, assessments 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

    If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our User Guide. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the User Guide, or a query about the Postgraduate Module Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.