Course 2023-2024 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLMG (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - M (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - IM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - MM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - AFC (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - CLELI (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - ACME (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - DES-ESS (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - EMIT (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - GIO (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - DSBA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - PPA (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04) - FIN (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

A basic knowledge of International Relations and Conflict Studies could be helpful. Students that have no prior knowledge of such fields can read: Frieden A, Jeffrey A, Lake DA, and Schultz KA (2018). World Politics: Interests, Interactions, Institutions. New York: Norton (for a general and wide perspective on International Relations)

Mission & Content Summary


From large-scale wars to mass protests, and from coups d’état to ethnic violence, politics often turns violent. When does conflict occur? This course aims to thoroughly study the factors that contribute to violent disruptions of the political order, as well as the institutional mechanisms that enable political communities to contain, prevent, and mitigate conflicts. The course is divided into two main parts. The first part focuses on different forms of organized violence, including inter-state and intra-state (civil) wars, terrorism, human rights violations, and mass killings. It examines the primary causes behind these types of violence. The second part sheds light on how domestic factors such as leaders, bureaucracies, and types of governance, as well as transnational actors and dynamics such as alliances, international organizations, trade, and immigration, influence conflicts. This section also explores the potential roles of other significant factors such as gender and climate change in shaping conflicts. In addition to lectures, students will be required to work in groups and deliver presentations of approximately 30 minutes each on one of the topics covered in class. The ultimate objective of the course is to familiarize students with an empirical approach to analyzing conflicts and equip them with robust theoretical tools to support their rigorous investigations.


Introduction: When do politics turn violent?
Inter-state wars: Why do states engage in wars?
Civil wars: Why does war occur within a state?
Terrorism: Why kill noncombatants?
Genocides and mass killings: Why do perpetrators carry out mass killings?
Human rights: Why do states violate human rights?
Leaders and conflict: Do politicians initiate wars abroad to hold on to power at home?
Domestic politics and conflict: How do domestic interest groups and institutions affect the occurrence of conflicts?
Alliances and conflict: Why promise to fight someone else's war?
International organizations and conflict: Can the UN keep the peace?
Economic incentives and conflict: Do trade reduce conflict? Do sanctions work?
Climate change and conflict: Does climate change foster conflict?
Gender and conflict: Is there a relationship between gender and conflict?
Students’ group work and presentations

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...

Discuss contemporary, crucial explanations of conflict
Assess how different actors interplay in the politics of war and peace
Find, interpret, and use relevant datasets for the study of conflict
Explain when and why various forms of violence and wars are more likely
Evaluate competing theories using various empirical strategies


At the end of the course student will be able to...

Employ solid theoretical and empirical insights to analyze and explain political conflict and violence
Locate and critically assesses relevant datasets for policy evaluation
Rigorously interpret contemporary and historical violent events​

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Group assignments


Group assignment: groups presentations on a topic chosen by the students and not covered in the face-to-face classes

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
x   x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
Last change 20/05/2023 18:32