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Unit of study_

PACS6911: Key Issues in Peace and Conflict Studies

Intensive March, 2021 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies and the history, philosophy, economics and politics of peace. Students will learn about the causes of violence and the potential for nonviolence, peaceful conflict resolution and other means of achieving peace with justice in different conflict settings.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PACS6911
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jake Lynch,
Lecturer(s) Jake Lynch,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Online task hurdle task Seminar participation
Weekly online discussion boards and/or live Zoom discussions
10% - Every week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay
Analysis of a key issue of peace with justice.
60% Formal exam period 3500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Personal introduction and notions of peace
Post online on a discussion board on the Canvas site.
5% Week 01 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Reflection
Linking observation, experience, theory and practice.
25% Week 07 2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

*Personal introduction and what is your notion of peace? Where did you get it from? Post on discussion board on Canvas site.

*Seminar participation through group discussions on Zoom.

*Reflection integrating theory with practice and lived experience outside the classroom.

*Final essay.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

Absent Fail 0 - 49 When you haven’t completed all assessment tasks or met the attendance requirements.
Cancelled No mark When your enrolment has been cancelled.
Discontinue not to count as failure No mark When you discontinue a unit after the relevant census date but before the DC deadline.
Discontinue – fail No mark When you discontinue a unit after the DC deadline but before the DF deadline
Withdraw No mark When you discontinue a unit before the relevant census date. WD grades do not appear on your academic transcript

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Standard late penalties in accordance with Assessment Procedures 2011.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to concepts of peace and peace and conflict studies Seminar (3 hr) LO1
Concepts of conflict, violence and justice Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 History, philosophy and politics of war and peace Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
International Peace and Security Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Human rights, peace and justice Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Culture and communication in conflict and peace Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 People building peace: civil society and social movements Seminar (3 hr) LO3
Political economy of conflict and peace Seminar (3 hr) LO2
Week 05 Assignment questions and discussion Forum (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Class presentations will be recorded and may be made available to students on the Canvas site.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Develop theoretical perspectives on notions of peace, conflict and violence, and what “peace with justice” and “resolution of conflict” mean in various situations.
  • LO2. Understand the nature and source of different types of conflict and violence: at the psychological and interpersonal levels, in groups and societies, and between countries and other global groupings.
  • LO3. Understand how to apply theory to practice in terms of identifying strategies for achieving peace with justice in various situations.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Learning activities have been updated with a number of interactive elements.

PACS6911 2021 Detailed Schedule of Sessions and Readings

This unit introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Peace and Conflict Studies and the history, philosophy and politics of peace. Students will gain an understanding of the nature and causes of violence, the potential of nonviolence, sources of generative force in the dynamics of cause and effect in conflicts, and the means of achieving peace with justice in different conflict settings.

Peace and Conflict Studies is linked to the globally recognised field of Peace Research. It has its own distinctive theoretical and methodological precepts, which we will study by considering the work of such pioneering writers as Johan Galtung and Betty Reardon. But it also draws inspiration from nonviolent struggles for justice in the world beyond the academy, and often seeks to support and collaborate with them. So the materials for this class will also include writings by significant researchers from the Global South, such as Bernedette Muthien and Joseph Olusegun Adebayo, as well as a range of ‘grey literature’: informal and semi-formal writing, including media columns, dealing with topical issues and examples from such struggles. We will also use documentary films as a discursive and learning medium.

Readings or links to online readings, and links to documentary films where possible, will be posted on the Canvas site. (Journal articles are available through the Library’s e-journal database).

Learning structure

Session dates and times:

March 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23 and 26, from 18:00 – 21:00 AEDT.

(NB these sessions will be followed by an open thread, which I will create on the Canvas site, where you will be able to ask questions about the assignments, and get responses from me and from each other).

Outline plan for each session:

First hour = presentation (from Session 2, preceded by open Q and A to recap previous session).


Second hour = Group work and feedback. This will often entail finding and reading a short article or passage either in advance or during the session, as a prompt for discussion.


Third hour = Watch video together and whole-class discussion. In practice, after group discussion, feedback and a break, we will typically have up to about half an hour to watch the video. This will serve as our prompt for further discussion, with the option for you to watch the rest of it in your own time (as each film is over half an hour in length).

Session 1, Tuesday March 2: Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

This session will focus on an introduction to the field of peace and conflict studies. The interdisciplinary, cosmopolitan and normative character of peace and conflict studies will be discussed in the context of the field’s expansion to incorporate conflict at all levels from the interpersonal to the international – and how they are related. As an example, we will consider possible connections between militarism and ‘toxic masculinity’.

Group discussion

Where is the peace in your chosen example? What would peace ‘look like’ in this context? What would getting to peace entail? Is peace here something to ‘attain’ or a process to share? Or both?

Barash, D. P. (2002) “The Meanings of Peace” in Peace and Conflict Studies. London: Sage Publications, pp. 3-27.

Stephenson, C. M. (1999) “Peace Studies, Overview” in Kurtz, L. & Turpin, J. (eds) The Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict. San Diego, California: Academic Press, Volume 2, pp. 809-820.

Brock-Utne, Birgit (2011) “International security and language: expanding the peace journalism framework” in in Jake Lynch, Ibrahim Seaga Shaw and Robert Hackett (eds), Expanding Peace Journalism: comparative and critical approaches, Sydney: Sydney University Press, pp 69-94.

Oberg, Jan (2020) ‘The Peace discourse that disappeared’. TRANSCEND Media Service, December 31.


Session 2, Friday March 5: Concepts of conflict, violence and peace

Recap of Session 1.

This session will focus on understanding how we define and approach conflict with reference to sociological theories that define conflict as either destructive (leading to violence and war) or constructive (leading to positive social change and peace with justice). We will explore Galtung’s theory and definitions of direct and indirect violence (structural and cultural) and negative and positive peace, and apply them to thinking about examples of conflict and security in the world today. As part of this discussion we will start to explore the meaning of peace with justice.

Group discussion

What are the principles that define a constructive approach to conflict?
How do the concepts of structural violence and positive peace add to your understanding of peace and conflict studies? What are some examples of cultural violence and its impact on achieving peace with justice?
How can you apply these insights to international conflicts as well as conflicts in your own life?

Muthien, Bernedette (2005) ‘Kissing all cheeks: unpacking conflict resolution in the global south’. In Ansgar Klein and Silke Roth (eds) NGOs between crisis prevention and security policy. Wiesbaden: Social Sciences Press.

Galtung, J. (1996) “Cultural Violence” in Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization. Oslo/London: PRIO/Sage Publications, pp. 196-210.

Kim, Dong Jin (2019) The Korean Peace Process and Civil Society. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature/Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 28- 37.

Dyrstad, K., & Hillesund, S. (2020) ‘Explaining support for political violence: Grievance and perceived opportunity’. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 64(9), 1725-1753. 

(Digested version:

Saleem, R., Pagan-Ortiz, M. E., Morrill, Z., Brodt, M., & Andrade, L. (2020). “I thought it would be different”: Experiences of structural violence in the lives of undocumented Latinas. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 26(2), 171–180.

(Digested version:


Session 3, Tuesday March 9: History and philosophy of war and peace

Recap of Session 2.

In this session, the causes of wars, attempts to prevent them from recurring, and attempts to regulate the conduct of war will be examined from a historical and political perspective, with a particular emphasis on the interrelationships between warmaking and peacemaking. We will consider the evolution and influence of significant historical milestones in the organisation of international affairs, such as the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the Congress of Vienna (1814-5), the League of Nations (1919) and the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, and define and interrogate key ideas in the philosophy of war and peace, including realism, just war theory, nonviolence and pacifism.

Group discussion

Using your chosen example, where does war ‘come from’? How is this war influenced by historical progress (or regression?!) What are the prospects for regulating the war, and ultimately ending it?


Orend, B. (2013) “Chapter 1 - A Sweeping History of Just War Theory” in The Morality of War, Broadview Press: Ontario pp. 9-32.

Adolf A. (2009) ‘Colonial and Imperial Peace and Peacemaking’ in Peace: a World History, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 143-61.

Viotti, P. and Kauppi, M. (1987) International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism, and Beyond (3rd edition), Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, pp. 1-16.

Kersten, Carool (2009) ‘Machiavelli or Gandhi? Chaiwat Satha-Anand’s nonviolence in a comparative perspective’.


Session 4, Friday March 12: International Peace and Security

Recap of Session 3.

In this class we will consider the implications, for conflict, peace and violence, of the modern international system. We will examine the clustering of challenges to the post WWII consensus on the use of force, including the emerging norms of the ‘responsibility to protect’, and the ‘war on terrorism’, and the response to it by intervening countries.

Group discussion

In your example, how is the international system of peace and security working – or not? What is meant, in this context, by ‘security’? What other concepts of security could be applied, to fashion policy responses?

Lynch, Jake (2009) ‘Coalition of the unwilling: the phenomenology and political economy of US militarism’, in Lynda Blanchard and Leah Chan (eds) Ending War, Building Peace, Sydney: Sydney University Press, pp. 91-112.

Ammerdown Group (2016) Rethinking Security: A Discussion Paper. Download from:

Webel, Charles P & Arnaldi, John (2012) ‘The Global War on Terrorism: How Effective?’, Journal of International Relations Research, Issue 1, pp 8-18.

Lynch, J. (2012) “Responsibility to Protect After Libya”, International Journal of Peace Studies, 16:2.

Piers Robinson review of Seven: documentary on mystery collapse of WTC7 building on 9/11


Session 5, Tuesday March 16: Human rights, peace and justice

Recap of Session 4.

In this session, we will consider where the ethics of peace and peace research ‘come from’, with a particular focus on the work of Betty Reardon on the importance of human rights in conceiving and assigning the positive values of peace. In the process, we will gain further insights into patriarchy and the war system, how they are linked across different contexts of conflict, and how they abrogate human potential.

Group discussion

In your example, how do the values and assumptions of different conflict contexts interact with each other? How do patriarchy and the war system reinforce each other? How could their ascendancy, in your example, be successfully ‘called out’ and challenged?


From Betty A Reardon: Key texts in gender and peace (ed Betty A Reardon and Dale T Snauwaert). Springer briefs on pioneers in science and practice: texts and protocols 27. Series editor Hans Günter Brauch, Mosbach, Germany.

‘Preface’, pp ix-xx and Chapter 8, ‘Women and Human Security: A Feminist Framework
and Critique of the Prevailing Patriarchal Security System’, pp 109-128.


Session 6, Friday March 19: Culture and communication in conflict and peace

Recap of Session 5.

In this session, we will see how conflict, and responses to it, may be socially constructed by discourse: the meanings people make out of images and messages from culture and communication. We will note the implications for conflict dynamics, of critical concepts of power, and how it is activated and exerted in symbolic domains. And we will consider Peace Journalism as a globally distributed movement for reform.

Group discussion

Taking an example of media representation of conflict, issues, how might it prompt the production and circulation of meanings that mobilise people for direct violence, and inure them to structural violence? How could readers and audiences be prompted and enabled to consider and value nonviolent responses to conflict?

Lederach, John Paul (1995) “Introduction” & “A Framework for Building Peace” in Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, pp. 3-23.
Lynch, Jake (2016) ‘News coverage, peacemaking and peacebuilding’, in Routledge Handbook of Media, Conflict and Security, Piers Robinson, Romy Frohlich & Philip Seib (eds), New York: Routledge, Chapter 15, pp 197-209.
Castells, Manuel, 2007: ‘Communication power and counter-power in the network society’, International Journal of Communication, 1: 238–266.

Freear, Matt & Andrew Glazzard (2020) ‘Preventive Communication: Emerging Lessons from Participative Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya’. The RUSI Journal, DOI: 10.1080/03071847.2020.1734316

Lynch, Jake (2020) ‘Preventing violent extremism or media development aid?’ TRANSCEND Media Service editorial, October 12


Session 7, Tuesday March 23: Advocacy and protest for peace with justice

Recap of Session 6.

In this session, we will consider the role and importance of advocacy and protest in opposing war and promoting peace with justice. We will consider the role of the movement against nuclear weapons in making nuclear war ‘unthinkable’ and thereby preventing it: including the adoption in 2017 of a UN Treaty banning nuclear weapons (which entered into force in January this year). And we will pay special attention to the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel; its aims, strategic rationale, and some of the oft-cited arguments over and against it.

Group discussion  

In your chosen example, what is the issue of peace with justice? How is the protest expected to work? Will it?

Tirman, J. (Nov. 1, 1999) ‘How We Ended the Cold War’ in The Nation.

Carter, A. (1992) ‘Nuclear Disarmament: the Second Wave in Europe, 1979-98’ in Peace Movements: international protest and world politics since 1945, pp. 110-39.

Bolton, Matthew (2018) ‘The nuclear taboo and the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons’. E-IR, May 2.

Pappe, I. (2012) ‘The Boycott Will Work: An Israeli Perspective’ in Audrea Lim (ed.) The Case for Sanctions Against Israel. London & Brooklyn, NY: Verso, pp. 179-85.

Lynch, Jake (2014) October, PeaceWrites 2/2014, ‘Victory for CPACS over BDS’, pp 7-10.

Parke, Melissa (2020) ‘The conscious pariah’. Edward Said Memorial Lecture.


Session 8, Friday March 26: Political Economy of conflict and peace

Recap of Session 7 + discussion on assignments.

Particular kinds of economic systems and arrangements can be regarded as violent in themselves, in their abrogation of human potential, and as making other forms of violence more likely. This session will pay particular attention to the ramifications of social and economic inequalities, as a bridge between the two fields of Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies. We will also consider political economic interests as drivers of war, with special reference to arms industries.

Group discussion

In your example, what political economic interests are at work? How do they exert generative force – that is, influence over the relationship of causes and effects in the conflict in question? How does their influence affect prospects for peace with justice?


Lynch, Jake (2011) ‘The Political Economy of Conflict and Peace’, CPACS Occasional Paper.

Cable, Vince (2020) ‘It will be unpopular – but Biden could be helped by a return to militarism’. Independent, November 10.
Howard, Sean (2020) ‘Lies at the heart of Europe’. Cape Breton Spectator, November 4.

Hickel, Jason (2017) ‘Is global inequality getting better or worse? A critique of the World Bank’s convergence narrative’. Third World Quarterly, 38:10, pp 2208-2222.
Wilkinson, R. (2005) ‘Inequality: more hostile, less sociable societies’. In The Impact of Inequality. Routledge: London, pp 33-56.

Roser, Max (2018) ‘The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it’. Our World in Data. View at:

Hickel, Jason (2019) ‘Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong’. Guardian, Jan 29, view at:





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