COURSE: Ethnic Conflict

Course content

This course examines the claims of the state and various ethnic groups in countries undergoing internal conflicts most frequently over the issues of group identity.  We will also analyze the complex role of the international community in facilitating the peaceful resolution of such conflicts. The course begins by analyzing the nature of ethnicity and ethnic conflict, and then looks at the political main means of regulating such conflicts (democracy, power sharing, coercive exchange, and authoritarianism).  In doing so, it looks at ethnic demands upon the state and the state's responses to these demands.  However, when the demands are presented in a non-negotiable manner and intense conflict surfaces, the conflict tends to become internationalized.  This leads, in the later part of the course, to a focus on the international community's role in containing conflict and facilitating its peaceful resolution.  Although the course is mainly concerned with process and looks at cases in the world over, special attention will be given to conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Elective course in the specialization "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

The objective of this course is to enable the students to:

• Describe the ethnicity and ethnic conflict

• Present the key theoretical orientations concerning the primordial, instrumental, and constructivist understandings of ethnicity.

• Apply the theories to actual cases

• Compare and analyze the main theoretical trends relating to: : 1) the concept of ethnicity, 2) causes of violent ethnic conflict

• Combine and synthesize contributions to the academic debate on the concepts of ethnicity and identity-base civil conflict

• Evaluate the validity of the various theorists’ arguments

This course will combine several types of instruction and collaborative learning. This includes lectures, several videos, group discussions/work and student presentations.

Donald Rothchild, MANAGING ETHNIC CONFLICT IN AFRICA (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution), 1997.


Other readings will be made available online (Absalon).

I provide regular feedback on student written assignments, along with several group activities designed to have students discuss their papers in small groups and with the class.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28