Skip to main content

Professional Development Courses

We offer a series of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses consisting of short workshops. Most courses are jointly delivered by academics and practitioners, both from within Durham University and elsewhere, and typically include lectures, seminars, group work, interactive roleplays and simulations based on a real or constructed case. 

In addition to offering set professional development courses, DGSi offers the opportunity of tailor-made workshops for: 

  • Organisations about to deploy personnel to conflict zones - including area-specific knowledge provision; 
  • Organisations grappling with specific conflict-related problems - such as whether, when or how to conduct negotiations with armed non-state actors; 
  • Organisations seeking to develop specific conflict-related skills - such as how to improve conflict sensitivity or develop systematic conflict analysis. 

Drawing both on in-house expertise and its global networks, DGSi can offer short courses which are tailored to the needs of the commissioning organisation, whether an NGO, a Ministry or an intergovernmental organisation. 

If you are interested in participating in an existing CPD or if you would like to request a tailor-made training (minimum participants 7), please contact the MSc programme director or the DGSi director.


Core Modules

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


In recent decades, the combination of defence, development, and diplomacy (also known as the 3Ds) has played an increasingly important role in international politics. From frozen conflicts and protracted insurgencies to great power rivalries and bloody contests of attrition, conflicts today are rarely resolved solely on the battlefield. Instead, lasting solutions to violent conflict typically require a careful balance of military power, diplomatic initiatives, and developmental assistance to achieve effect. By extension, success is increasingly determined by how well the different arms of government and civil society, both locally and internationally, can work together – and how well they understand each other’s perspectives. Yet, as the causes and conduct of conflict evolve, so too must responses. This module examines key themes in the changing character of conflict, and explores their implications for both war-making and peacebuilding in the modern world.


Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace (SGIA42615)


The module introduces students to the key concepts and theories related to conflict prevention, sustainable peace and security. The module is underpinned by a critical orientation and engages with contemporary debates within academic and policy spheres in relation to conflict prevention, stabilization, and the notion (and practices) of sustainable peace. The module explores the prevention strategies of governments, the United Nations and other global and regional organisations, as well as the role of civil society, communities and local actors, including men and women, involved in building sustainable peace.


International Law and Conflict Intervention (SGIA42715)


This module will look at the role, interplay and limits of international law in armed conflicts. In order to do so, it includes an introduction to the underlying principles of international law; a study of the relevant laws on the use of force, armed conflict, and human rights; as well as how these have changed with, and affected, the evolving nature of conflicts. In particular, the identity of combatants, the role of technology, the changing framework of counterterrorism and the role of diplomacy, negotiations and mediation in conflict intervention will be studied from a critical perspective. Throughout, students will be asked to consider the possible tensions that arise between law and justice, between local cultural and political practices and international norms, between military and diplomatic and/or development goals, and between national security and human rights.


Post-Conflict Reconstruction and State-Building (SGIA42915)


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, including: 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 internal system and its historical legacies.


Peace Processes and Everyday Political Negotiation (SGIA42815)


This module uses case studies to examine theories and concepts that underpin effective peace processes, and analyse factors that affect the outcome. It investigates the role of mediators and facilitators (external and within communities) in peace processes, explores different styles of political negotiation in conflict situations and their impact on everyday life, and analyses the positive and negative factors that impact on negotiation. It will also provide an understanding of the methodologies used to study peace processes and political negotiation, and of the impact of our choice of methodology and conceptual framework on our understanding of conflict and negotiations, and vice versa.


Consolidating Peace After Violence (SGIA43015)


The module employs a bottom-up perspective and places a ground level approach at its core, asking various questions centred on human experiences in relation to post-conflict reconstruction. The module examines, for example, the implications of power-sharing models of governance and post-war constitution-building, reconciliation, transitional justice, and memorialisation, people’s diplomacy and gendered peacebuilding, human security concerns in the consolidation of peace.


Capstone: Humanitarian Simulation (SGIA42415)


During the Capstone course, students will role-play a humanitarian crisis in real-time. Acting as a diverse group of local leaders, NGOs, government, and armed groups, students will seek to apply the theory and best practices they have learned in other modules, in order to address humanitarian needs in a specific context. The sessions will be led by a group of experienced humanitarian practitioners who between them have decades of experience in the humanitarian sector, as students are presented with ethical dilemmas and real-world challenges for which they will have to propose solutions. The course is engaging, dynamic, and an amazing opportunity for reflection on the difficulties of engaging in humanitarian response and peacebuilding.


Dissertation (SGIA40560)


The DGSi Dissertation provides an opportunity for students to engage in a substantial piece of scholarship in an appropriate area of their choice and under suitable supervisory guidance. This module provides an introduction to dissertation research, enabling students to design and develop their own research question and engage in an extended independent research project, under the supervision of an academic expert from the DGSi staff. In so doing, the dissertation allows students to develop in-depth theoretical knowledge in a relevant sub-field, or to tackle a policy-relevant problem, while demonstrating key research skills. As such, the dissertation represents the culmination of the MSc programme, and constitutes one third of students’ final grade.


Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Modules

Conflict Analysis (SGIA47415)        

The module explores the importance of conflict analysis and the dynamics of (violent) conflicts by examining different case studies and approaches to conflict resolution, including those elaborated by international non-governmental agencies and governments. It examines different conflict analysis tools and frameworks, as well as how to develop a strategic report on the evolution of violent conflicts. Students will develop a considerable knowledge of, and how to apply, various conflict analysis tools, frameworks and techniques useful for analysing conflicts especially in situations of fragility and violence, and also develop important report writing and presentation skills.


Defence Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SGIA40H30)

Defence Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIE) is an interdisciplinary module that provides students with the opportunity to work with UK Ministry of Defence organisations to address contemporary challenges. The module is an applied one that sees students form teams to engage directly with complex “real-world” challenges proposed by UK government sponsors. DIE covers policy, economics, technology, and other areas needed to address the sponsors’ problem statement in a dynamic and iterative fashion. The module will involve close engagement with government agency end-users to develop viable institutional responses to live security sector issues using a business-derived ‘lean start-up methodology’.


Conflict Mediation (SGIA43515)    

The module explains the process of conflict mediation by third parties, covering entry and exit strategies, types of mediation (official and non-official), legitimacy of mediators, benefits and limitations of mediation, qualities of mediators, mediator credibility, timing of mediation initiatives. It also explored ethical guidelines for mediators, techniques and skills of mediation, ways of engaging armed non-state groups in mediation, and co-mediation and building a mediation team. It also discusses mediation in protracted asymmetric and symmetric violent conflict and spoilers.


Conflict Sensitive Programme Management (SGIA43715)

What is conflict sensitivity and why is it important? The module will explore this question through discussing conflict sensitivity in organisations and in the field, including in contexts of displacement. It uses conflict sensitive case studies illustrating various aspects of conflict sensitivity in areas of humanitarian response and development including: shelter, WASH, health, civilian-military relations, personnel, logistics/procurement, and gender. It offers an introduction to conflict sensitive analysis tools, security strategies, and negotiation strategies with states, armed forces, and non-state armed groups. It discusses the importance of impartiality, transparency, accountability and inclusive processes in humanitarian action in times of armed conflict.


Assessing Martial Power (SGIA40D15)     

Understanding who possesses military power, how much, and what it might (or might not) be used for, is a central problem in international affairs – for states and scholars alike. After all, the consequences of miscalculation are potentially existential. This module explores the main conceptual and theoretical approaches to analysing military power, providing students with practical insights into the challenges of estimating martial capabilities. It will introduce students to the societal, political, technological, and organisational factors that shape the generation, development and employment of military force, and the complex interdependencies between them. The module concludes with a simulation exercise, offering students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the sources of military power – and to experience the challenges of interpreting them – in a team-based decision-making scenario rooted in real-world experience.


Transitory Lives: Migration, Research and Advocacy (SGIA48315)       

The module will explore theoretical, legal, and policy dimensions of migration and forced displacement. It will provide a solid background on contemporary research evidence and the manner in which it often contradicts policy approaches. The different categories of “migrant”, “refugee”, and “asylum seeker-“ will be explained, alongside international legal frameworks.

The module will also cover key debates within migration literature that touch upon civil society (the role of NGOs and international NGOs), development, conflict and post-conflict contexts (refugee return schemes).


Contemporary Challenges in the United Nations Peacekeeping (SGIA48815)  

Peacekeeping is one of the most visible and high-profile tools used by the United Nations to support transitions from conflict to peace and to respond to threats to international peace and security. The module is strongly praxis based, considering both theory and practice of peacekeeping. It offers a practical and multi-disciplinary approach that includes the legal, political and military aspects of peacekeeping, situating these within the current contexts in which peacekeepers are deployed.


'Curating Human Remains': Dealing with the Legacy of War and Disaster from Archaeological Perspectives (SGIA48515)

This interdisciplinary module sits at the intersection between Political Science, History and Archaeology. It focuses on contexts in which the discovery, excavation, analysis and ‘curation’ of human remains is subject to controversy and political debate. The module raises questions as to the ways in which academics and practitioners can work with the material legacy of war and disaster as it presents itself in the form of human remains (e.g. mass graves and other burial sites). In this way it casts light on the complex decision-making processes that surround the ways in which memory narratives are created and curated after violence and suffering occur. Through a field trip to the excavation and burial sites in Durham, the module will investigate such challenges as they were encountered in the curation of the Scottish soldiers project in Durham (2013-2018, and ongoing), and relate them to issues of international war and other disaster contexts today. A variety of case studies from the past will be used to reflect on the extent to which knowledge and skills or archaeologists and bioarchaeologists impact on the work of practitioners working in post-war and disaster-stricken contexts.


Gender in the UN Global Security Agenda (SGIA48415) 

The module provides advanced knowledge of a range of theoretical, political, social, and policy issues arising from the implementation of Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) as a conceptual a framework that addresses gender imbalances and inequalities in peace processes, with the objective of attaining sustainable peace. It focuses on practical skills and techniques necessary for designing a gender-sensitive peace process. It offers a hands-on approach with specific methodologies, tools, and practices used to integrate women in peace processes, address gender perspectives in peace agreements, and evaluate the extent and results of such efforts.


Capturing and Counting Peace and Conflict (SGIA48715)

How can we “capture” and accurately convey peace and conflict? This module will investigate these issues, ethical, methodological and practical, in relation to contemporary peace and conflict. It will examine various attempts to “capture” peace and conflict, paying particular attention to top-down and bottom-up methodologies and the different approaches that they use. The module will culminate in a training of the Everyday Peace Indicators system and its use in a simulated exercise. The module covers top-down indicator systems, proxy indicators systems, participative numbers, counting and not counting casualties, monitoring and evaluation of peacebuilding projects, survey work, gender, the interface between top-down and bottom-up indicator systems, the story and methodology of the Everyday Peace Indicators project, measuring SDG16.


Fieldtrip (SGIA43215)          

During the Field Trip, students will have the opportunity to travel to a post-conflict country. While there, they will apply the theory that they have learned in all modules throughout their course and see the complexity of post-conflict peacebuilding and security. Students will visit sites of historical memory, armed conflict, and meet with local community leaders, activists, humanitarians, and others, in order to have face-to-face encounters with people living and embodying peacebuilding. The location of the course may change from year to year, however the course supported by DGSi to keep additional costs as low as possible, to ensure accessibility to as many students as possible.