Fall 2019 - POL 348 D100

Theories of War, Peace and Conflict Resolution (4)

Class Number: 7453

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
    SWH 10051, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 6, 2019
    11:45 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Examines the origins and causes of several major conflicts during the last century. This course reviews various theories on the causes of conflict and war in the international system. It also examines the techniques of preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, crisis management and coercive diplomacy as they have been used to try to forestall open warfare and maximize the opportunities for peaceful change and the negotiated resolution of international disputes. Both documentary and feature films will be used to illustrate many types of conflict and warfare in the international system. Course simulations, when employed, will concentrate on the problems and risks that are involved in international efforts to contain and reverse the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


This course provides a detailed introduction to the systematic study of patterns of conflict in the international system, the causes of war and the development of techniques of ‘coercive diplomacy’ and patterns of conflict resolution. The course will examine the application of theories and methods across a spectrum of international conflicts. Diverse notions of peace and conflict resolution will be examined.

Nowadays most wars are civil wars within multi-national countries rather than violent conflicts between sovereign states. Groups fight in the name of ethnic or religious identity for supremacy. Unlike regular armies pitched against each other in previous world wars, irregular forces cause havoc through terrorism. Established rules of warfare and predictability of such strife fall by the wayside, despite stronger outside powers trying to impose solutions. We’ll explore Arendt Lijphard’s proposal of power-sharing in divided societies, partition and constitutionally guaranteed secession (Buchanan) and Mahmood Mamdani’s recommended co-existence with a vanquished adversary rather than retribution. The experience with dozens of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions around the world will be assessed.

There will be a 4-hour lecture each week.  Lectures, group discussions, presentations on selected readings and select films will be used to make this course a stimulating learning experience.  Students are expected to attend regularly, read widely and conscientiously and participate actively and critically.  


  • Oral Presentation 15%
  • Participation / seminar contribution overall 10%
  • Mid-Term in Class Test 35%
  • Final Take-Home Exam 40%



Richard K. Betts, Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on the Causes of War and Peace, Pearson- Logman, New York, Paperback, ISBN 13:978-0-205-85175-1. Other editions ok.

Martha Minnow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence, Beacon Press,1998
ISBN: 0-8070-4506-3

Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, Three Rivers Press, New York, 1999
ISBN: 0-8129-3129-7

Philip Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, 1998.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html