Emneplan forQUTVPEACE Peace and Conflict Studies

Engelsk emnenavn
Peace and Conflict Studies
Høst: Peace and Conflict Studies
30 stp.


The course description was approved by the Dean 24 June 2009 and by the Academic Affairs Committee, Faculty of Education and International Studies 23 May 2013 and 2 May 2014. Minor changes approved 22 October 2015 and 5 December 2017. Valid from spring semester 2018.

The Faculty of Education and International Studies at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (OAUC) and Kulturstudier (Cultural Studies) offer an international one semester full-time course (30 ECTS credits) in Peace and Conflict Studies in Nepal. The course is offered twice per year, with semesters starting in August and February.

Peace and Conflict Studies is taught through an interdisciplinary social science and humanities- approach incorporating elements of sociology, political science, history, philosophy, psychology, social anthropology, geography, economy and religious studies. It combines a general introduction to peace and conflict studies with a specific focus on the South Asia region and theories and cases of conflict resolution and peace building. The course activities (lectures, discussions, seminars, workshops, excursions, assignments, examination) as well as the literature are all in English. The first part of the course is a 7-week web-based self-study period, after which the students arrive in Nepal to attend the regular course. During the 10 weeks in Nepal there will be lectures, seminars and group work on weekdays, in addition to field excursions. 30 two-hour lectures will cover the curriculum. A permanent seminar teacher will hold approximately 10 seminars during the 10 weeks in Nepal. The seminars are primarily a forum where students take part in discussions on the course subjects and, through practical teachings and exercises, get a more profound understanding of theories in peace and conflict studies.


No required prerequisite knowledge.


At the end of the course the student has obtained the following learning outcomes:


The student

  • knows the basic theories of peace and conflict studies and the emergence of peace and conflict studies as an academic discipline
  • knows the social, economic, political, environmental and cultural conflicts in South Asia, particularly on India and Nepal, historically and today
  • knows the different instruments for conflict resolution and conflict transformation in violent conflicts (e.g. civil wars and interstate wars)
  • has gained a conceptual understanding of peace building
  • knows the role of the UN in conflict resolution and peace building


The student

  • can reflect critically on the theoretical foundations and approaches to conflict resolution and conflict transformation
  • can differentiate between the different dimensions of peace building: the security dimension; the socioeconomic dimension; the political and ethical dimension and reconciliation
  • can utilize research based material concerning the nature of peace and of conflict, the causes of violent conflict, ways of preventing conflict (i.e., routes toward "negative peace") and the ends frequently identified as "positive peace"

General competence

The student

  • has gained experience of working in a group and writing a group paper
  • has acquired general academic skills


The course is organised around three principal themes: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, Conflict Resolution and Peace building and Peace and Conflict in South Asia. Each of these parts will be covered by ten sets of two-hour lectures. An introduction to research methodology and academic writing is part of the course.

1. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (equivalent to 9 credits)

The introduction presents an overview of the field of peace and conflict studies, from its early beginnings towards its contemporary understandings. The literature, lectures and seminars will discuss traditional and modern understandings of peace and conflict as well as related themes (i.e. gender, war, terrorism, human rights, development, security, non-violence); and further discuss them in perspective to other existing theories and readings in the field. The students will acquire a general overview of the field of peace and conflict studies, its multi-disciplinary avenues, as well as about recent developments within the field itself.

Introduction to the concepts of Peace, Violence and Conflict

The introduction to the course investigates the field of peace and conflict studies and its multi-disciplinary approach and the meaning of peace as one of the main subjects within the field. Concepts of violence and various forms of violence are presented. While looking at perspectives of organised violence, the causes of wars and violent conflicts are further examined and discussed; in particular through examining trends and causes of armed conflict as well as possible mechanisms of prevention. Further an overview of understandings of conflict and war are explored historically as well as through presenting notions of -old wars- and -new wars-. These lectures are concerned with answering the seemingly simple but actually quite complex question: Why do violent conflicts occur? They do so by considering the reasons for war and violent conflicts in a series of ever-increasing levels of complexity and social causation.

Building Negative and Positive Peace

Peace and Conflict Studies differs from traditional approaches of social sciences, political science and international relations in several ways, one of which is that it concerns itself not only with the prevention and ending of war (negative peace), but also with the articulation of desirable outcomes (positive peace).

Through exploring various meanings of peace the second half of the lectures presents peace and conflict studies through the concepts of negative and further positive peace. Having surveyed the causes of wars, from traditional to modern understandings, we next move to the question of achieving peace via international organisations (including but not limited to the UN) and international law. The lectures also debate in general the relationship between human rights and peace, and in particular try to analyse the paradigm shift from state security to human security.

The concept of positive peace is presented in four lectures. We start the first lecture by examining the concept of positive peace, followed by assessing the role of peace movements, both in history and in current practice. Accordingly, the concluding lectures in this section will deal with issues on gender and war, development strategies, social justice, as well as on aspects of environmental sustainability and ecological justice. We conclude the introduction part with a concluding discussion on a culture of peace, and on non-violence as a strategic and tactical tool, but also as a way of life.

2. Conflict Resolution and Peace building (equivalent to 9 credits)

This part gives the students an understanding of the foundations for - and the conceptual differences between - conflict resolution and conflict transformation, the different instruments at work in processes of both, and the various contexts in which these processes operate. In addition, it provides an introduction to the concept of peace building, its history and challenges, as well as a discussion on its political and ethical dimensions.

Conflict Resolution and Conflict Transformation

The section begins with a focus on conflict resolution and conflict transformation, the definitions, foundations and theoretical approaches. Different instruments for conflict resolution and conflict transformation are next introduced, such as track I, II and III negotiations, involving respectively the main conflicting parties; NGOs and individuals from civil society; the grassroots, and local communities. An important focus here is the role of third parties, negotiators and/or mediators. The course further seeks to establish the main differences between challenges of conflict resolution in civil wars and conflict resolution in wars between states. Next, the role of the UN in conflict resolution is discussed, as well as the role of gender. The first part of the lecture series ends with examining aspects of culture, religion and nonviolence in conflict resolution and conflict transformation.

Peace Building

Peace building has a much wider focus than conflict resolution. The second part of this section is dedicated to clarifying the difference between conflict resolution, which generally tends to be actor-focused, and peace building, which is both actor-focused and has more of a structural approach. This is done by diving deeply into the different dimensions of peace building. Accordingly, the challenges of post-conflict peace building are assessed through looking at security dimensions, socio-economic dimensions, political dimensions and reconciliation processes. Through the work with these different dimensions the students will learn about the usefulness of peace building along a continuum - in preventing armed conflict from recurring, in supporting on-going peace processes, and in contributing to post-conflict reconstruction.

We end this part with addressing some important questions on -political and ethical intervention from above- in conflicts and on the agenda of -Liberal Peace building-.

3. Peace and Conflict in South Asia (equivalent to 9 credits)

The lectures of this part explore various aspects of conflict and peace in South Asia. We begin with an overview of recent South Asian history, and especially the history of post-colonial countries in the region. The contemporary situation is presented within this context, especially looking at communalism in India. We continue with exploring the contemporary social, political and economic conflicts in the region, exemplifying them through specific case studies of Dalits, Adivasis and Naxalites in India.

We then look at the complexity and the role of the state in religious-political conflicts in Pakistan and India. Further, the complexity of the role of an -International Community- is analysed through looking at the impact of post war reconstruction as well as International Aid in Afghanistan.

Next, the dynamics of the conflict and peace process in Nepal are examined. Nepal provides an interesting case study for understanding the complex social and political conditions of post-conflict society and the various efforts of peace building - local as well as international. Further we will look into the conflict and peace process in Sri Lanka. Here the role of Norway as a peace facilitator with reference to the peace process in Sri Lanka is discussed, looking at its various successes and failures.

Having formed an understanding of the various complexities of conflict in South Asia, the lectures look into the specific case study of Kashmir, as a conflict between India and Pakistan.

Nuclear weapons, international nuclearisation and nuclear deterrence are also addressed through a contemporary case study of India and Pakistan. Further, the connection between forced migration and conflict is presented with case studies from South Asian countries, directing our attention towards questions concerning refugee protection, security and peace.

Lastly, the understandings of peace and non-violence are explored through the case studies of Gandhi-s non-violence (Hinduism) and Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Islam). This places peace in the South Asian context, preparing us especially for a multiple of views on and within religions.

The South Asia region represents a wide range of topics of relevance to peace and conflict studies, all of which cannot be covered by the lectures and readings of this part. The students should therefore complement the readings with their own material on themes of specific interest. The 200 pages of the student-s own choice can very well be used for this purpose. Among the topics mentioned in the course that can be further investigated are:

  • The relationship between human rights, development and peace in South Asia
  • International war and the atomic threat in Kashmir
  • Civil war and peace processes in Sri Lanka and Nepal
  • Civil war, international intervention, peace building, insurgency and terrorism in Afghanistan
  • South Asian history of war and peace
  • Conflicts of caste, class, ethnicity, religion and politics in contemporary India and Pakistan
  • Gandhi and Indian post-colonial philosophy of peace and war
  • Ethics of war and peace in Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity
  • Nationalism and post-colonial nation building
  • Independence movements and anti-colonialism in South Asia

Methodology (equivalent to 3 credits)

Students will be familiarized with basic concepts of academic research and methodology (incl. peace research, data collection, field work, content and material analysis) oriented towards their group paper work tasks. Students will get clear information on how to write an academic paper (i.e. structure, content, context, format) and how to implement theoretical and empirical findings in their writing.

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

At the beginning of their stay in Nepal, the students form groups of 3-5 persons. The purposes of these groups are to work on current topics from the lectures and literature, and to complete the group examination. There will be a seminar on how to write papers, in which the seminar teacher will suggest topics of relevance. The seminar teacher is instrumental in forming the groups and supervising them during the writing process.

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

The following course work requirements must be met before the examinations may be sat:

  • Introductory assignment. This is a paper of approx. 1800 words (+/- 10 %) / approx. 4-5 pages, where students must demonstrate good understanding of the key concepts introduced in the introductory part. At this stage, all communication between student and teachers is based on e-mail. The paper is to be submitted through e-mail before students go to Nepal. It will be assessed within the following week.  
  • Field excursion assignment. This paper of approx. 1800 words (+/- 10 %) / approx. 4-5 pages is written in relation to the field excursions. The aim of the paper is that the students show their ability to connect the contents of the course curriculum with the field excursion.
  • Presence. The course is dependent on dialogue and discussions that utilize the practical and educational background of the students. The students have to demonstrate their own understanding of the peace and conflict literature and lecture content. Therefore, it is obligatory for each student to participate with a minimum of 80 % in all lectures, seminars and field excursions. If the level of absence exceeds this limit, the student may compensate with a written submission according to agreement with his/her academic coordinator. The paper shall be of approx. 1800 words (+/- 10 %) / approx. 4-5 pages.

Course work requirements must be met within fixed deadlines. The Study Guide of the course will give details about deadlines defined by OAUC/LUI. Work requirements must be met also by students with valid absence from classes documented by medical certificate. Students who are prevented from meeting the work requirements within the fixed deadlines due to illness or other valid and documented reasons, may be given a new deadline. A new deadline is in each case given by the course teacher.

Course work requirements are evaluated Accepted/Not accepted. Students who submit their work requirements within the set deadline but fail to get accepted, are entitled to a maximum of two new attempts to fulfil the course requirements. A new deadline for meeting the work requirements is in each individual case given by the teacher of the course in question.

Vurdering og eksamen

Group examination and individual home examination

  • The written group examination is linked to the topics of the course as a whole. This is a paper on a topic of each group's own choosing, of approx. 9000 words (+/- 10 %) / approx.  20-25 pages, which the students write in groups during their stay. Here, they shall combine perspectives from the literature and lectures, preferably link up with empirical cases from the region, while drawing on literature that the group finds relevant. The paper shall be submitted electronically within the given deadline. The group examination is given a mark (A-F) counting 40 % of the final result.
  • Individual written home examination, i.e. an essay of approx. 4400 words (+/- 10 %) / approx. 10-12 pages, where students shall prove their analytical skills and understanding in the discussion of a given topic. The essay is to be submitted electronically within the given deadline.. The individual home examination is given a mark (A-F) counting 60 % of the final result.

Final Assessment

The students- academic performance is assessed on the basis of the written group examination and the individual written home examination (see above). The student will be awarded a composite grade where the group examination counts 40 % and the individual home examination counts 60 % of the final mark. Both exams must be passed in order to be awarded a final grade. If a student does not pass one of the exams, only the failed exam shall be re-taken.

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

Examination support material is permitted.


Grading scale will be according to the ECTS-grading scale, with A-E as pass grades and F as fail grade.


One internal and one external examiner conduct the assessment of both the group examination and the individual home examination.


Target groups

Peace and Conflict Studies directs itself to

  • students who wish to include peace and conflict studies as a part of a bachelor's degree
  • professionals (teachers, diplomats, journalists, NGO workers, etc.) and others who seek further education in international and multicultural matters

Admission requirements

Applicants must qualify for university admission in Norway.