Peace and Conflict: From Theory to Practice

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Peace and Conflict: From Theory to Practice

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Justice Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Objective

    The primary objective of the course ‘Peace and Conflict: From Theory to Practice’ is to familiarise students with the practical context of issues of peace and conflict. When finalising the course, students will:

    • have knowledge and understanding of the practical context regarding peacebuilding as experienced by professionals;
    • be able to apply their knowledge, understanding and problem-solving abilities to specific cases within the broader multi/interdisciplinary and multilevel context of peace and conflict;
    • be able to critically assess peacebuilding and/or humanitarian actions, using their knowledge base built throughout the lectures;
    • be able to communicate the knowledge and rationale that underpin their conclusions to an audience of specialists and non-specialists in a clear and unambiguous manner;
    • be able to analyse, synthesise and co-create potential solutions to complex problems in the domain of peace and conflict;
    • be able to give and receive constructive feedback to and from their peers on a variety of products, including oral presentations and written work, and use this feedback to revise and improve their work;
    • be able to work in multi-disciplinary student teams and to contribute to the functioning and productivity of the group by sharing insights from their own disciplinary background.

    Course Content

    Since the end of the First World War, the world has seen various waves of peacebuilding practices. Irrespective of these waves, professionals engaged in the practice of peacebuilding or conflict resolution, as they have to navigate complex configurations of states, international organisations, donor wishes, local governments, aid agencies and state or non-state armed groups. As such, practitioners are consistently faced with diverse practical and ethical challenges.

    The approach that professionals adopt to deal with such issues is central to the course ‘Peace and Conflict: From Theory to Practice’. Whereas the other courses in the minor ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ deal with the philosophy and ethics of political violence, criminological and psychological approaches to violent behaviour, international security, and intersectional perspectives on peacebuilding and reconciliation, this module adopts a crucial focus of practical engagement. This course familiarizes students with a genealogy of peacebuilding, demonstrating the ways in which peacebuilding practices have altered over the course of the last centuries. This provides a backbone, and as such a critical analytical framework, to understanding the environment that practitioners in the peace and conflict sector work in. It thereby aims to familiarise students with the very practical complexities that governments, inter-governmental structures (e.g., European Union, United Nations), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) face when working in the context of peace and conflict.

    Through a series of lectures and guest lectures by practitioners, and by working together in multidisciplinary student teams, students in this course are invited to combine theoretical knowledge with insight into these practical challenges, and to apply what they have learned throughout the Minor ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ to complex, real-world case studies of international responses to (political) violence and armed conflict. Working in this setting will provide the students with a critical lens to understanding the complex and challenging work in peace and conflict settings.

    Additional Information Teaching Methods

    Weekly lectures in P1 and P2, bi-weekly working groups in P3. In relation to developing regulations around the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching methods may be subject to change.

    Method of Assessment

    Exam (40%); Final (video) group project (40%); Guest-lecture assignment (20%); Film-assignment (pass/fail).

    Entry Requirements

    • Students must have earned 90 credits, including 60 of the first year.
    • Participation in 'Political Violence and the Human Condition' and
    • 'Philosophy and Ethics of Political Violence: Peace, War and Terrorism' is required.

    Additional Information Target Audience

    This course is intended for students in the minor Peace and Conflict Studies. The course is also open as an elective course to students from any Dutch university or other institution of higher education, and exchange students.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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