COURSE: Ethnic Conflict, Peace Building and Democratization

Course content

This course deals with democratization processes, ethnic conflicts, and peace-building processes in multi-cultural societies. Democratizing countries are much more diverse than established democracies. This has important implications for the democratization process. We focus on some of these implications and look, for example, at the destabilizing effects of democratization on political relations, which might lead to ethnic conflict; at the role of international actors in democratization and peace-building processes; at ethnic relations in autocracies; at power-sharing and power-dividing approaches as institutional remedies for divided societies; and at political inclusion in multi-cultural societies.


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


Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome


  • Learn and discuss multiple perspectives on ethnic politics.

  • Get insights into a research field at the intersection of domestic institutions (comparative politics), conflict studies and international relations (peace-building).



  • This course will help students to develop and apply empirical knowledge beyond developed industrial countries.

  • They will be able to train their skills in designing and writing a short empirical research paper, as we will proceed step by step, and closely follow their progress throughout the course.

The course is taught in the first seven weeks in the first part of the spring semester. Course activi-ties combine classroom discussions of the readings, group-based exercises (some of which are aimed at supporting the development of research ideas for empirical research papers), and – de-pending on the number of enrolled students – activities to support the paper writing process and to provide feedback.

The readings are primarily based on journal articles and book chapters. This list offers an insight into the perspectives on ethnic conflict and political peacebuilding, which will be discussed throughout the course.


  • Roeder, P. G. (2007). Where nation-states come from: Institutional change in the age of nationalism. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press

  • Snyder, J. (2000). From Voting to Violence. Democratization and Nationalist Conflict. New York, London: W.W Norton & Company.


  • 2011. "Horizontal Inequalities and Ethnonationalist Civil War: A Global Comparison." American Political Science Review 105 (3):478-95.

    Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxford Economic Papers, 56(4), 563–595.

  • Fortna, V. P. (2008). Peacekeeping and democratization. In A. K. Jarstad & T. D. Sisk (Eds.), From War to Democracy (pp. 39-79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Grofman, B. and Stockwell, R., 2003. Institutional design in plural societies: mitigating ethnic conflict and fostering stable democracy. In: R. Mudambi, P. Navarra and G. Sobbrio, eds., Economic Welfare, International Business and Global Institutional Change. Cheltenham, Northampton: Edward Elgar, pp.102–137.

  • Jackson Preece, J. (2011). Diversity And Co-Existence In International Society: The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations In Historical Perspective. In F. Palermo & N. Sabanadze (Eds.), National Minorities in Inter-State Relations (pp. 29-44). Leiden: Brill.

  • Lijphart, A. (1969). Consociational democracy. World Politics, 21(2), 207–225.

  • Rabushka, Alvin R., and Kenneth A. Shepsle. 1972. Politics in Plural Societies. A Theory of Democratic Instability. Columbus (OH): Charles E. Merrill.

  • Snyder, J., & Vinjamuri, L. (2003). Trials and Errors. Principle and Pragmatism in Strategies of International Justice. International Security, 28(3), 5-44.


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