Fall 2019 - POL 348 J100

Theories of War, Peace and Conflict Resolution (4)

Class Number: 7714

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2019
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    HCC 1415, Vancouver

  • 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 will examine wars in the last century. In particular, we will review the causes of war, the reasons why conflicts escalate and spread, as well as the conditions under which we can preserve international cooperation and promote peaceful resolutions following a conflict. When discussing these topics, we will focus on the role that key leaders in different political systems play in shaping these events.

The approach to this course is not descriptive, but rather analytical. As such, we will also be learning key analytical tools – such as game theory – that help us to better understand the strategic interactions between states, leaders, international organizations, and other non-state actors in addressing the various topics. There is also a strong empirical component to this course. In particular, we will look at historical and current events to assess the applicability of the theories and models we learn. In addition to game theory and empirics, we will also at times watch documentaries and talks by experts to illustrate the main concepts and theories of the course.

There are one 4-hour lecture for this course. These meetings are not only for me to lecture but also for students to participate in discussions.


  • Presentations 10%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Attendance 10%
  • Term Paper 30%



Richard K. Betts, ed., Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace. 5th ed. (Routledge, NY: 2017). 3rd and 4th editions are also acceptable.    
ISBN: 978-1-138-29069-3

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson and James D. Morrow, The Logic of Political Survival, MIT Press, 2004, ISBN-13: 978-0262524407, ISBN-10: 9780262524407

The reading list also includes a number of scholarly articles written by some of the most influential academics in international politics. These articles are include to not only get a “textbook” style of learning for international relations but also to get an introduction to how these concepts are applied in current or resent research in the field.

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