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Unit of study_

PACS6911: Key Issues in Peace and Conflict Studies

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal evening] - 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,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Final essay
Final essay
60% Formal exam period
Due date: 20 Jun 2022 at 10:00

Closing date: 30 Jun 2022
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Self-introduction and notions of peace
Post on Canvas site forum
5% Week 01
Due date: 28 Feb 2022 at 10:00

Closing date: 07 Mar 2022
Up to 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Reflection
25% Week 09
Due date: 29 Apr 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 13 May 2022
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Participation Seminar participation
Attention to reading and participation in in-class discussion
10% Week 13
Due date: 23 May 2022 at 21:00

Closing date: 23 May 2022
13 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

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.

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 Peace and Conflict Studies, to peace and to Key Issues Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Concepts of conflict, violence, positive and negative peace Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 03 Conflict Resolution and Transformation, and Peace with Justice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 History, politics and philosophy of war and peace Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 05 International peace and security Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 06 Critical thinking and analysis in Peace and Conflict Studies Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 07 Human rights, peace and justice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 08 Case study: Peace, Israel and Palestine Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 10 Political Economy of Conflict and Peace 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 11 Political Economy of Conflict and Peace 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 12 Culture and communication in Conflict and Peace Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 13 People Building Peace: Advocacy and Protest Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 14 (STUVAC) Course overview and recap, discussion of major assignment Seminar (2 hr) 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.

Required readings

To be advised in student message, mailed out in week -01, and on Canvas site

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 to refer to current and recent examples of conflict, also using media and grey literature reports to ensure study material is up to date. UoS now reconfigured for 13-week delivery.

Assessment summary


·  Reflection: The purpose of the reflection assignment is to raise awareness of the issues of peace, conflict and violence as they bear and society as a whole: to make the link between personal learning and lived experience. Use up to 1,500 words.

It should include one or more specific examples of your own lived experience outside the classroom relating to the ideas we have met. With emphasis on reflections and analysis (rather than a detailed description of a particular conflict or experience), the reflection will enable you to show how you are relating the theories explored in the unit to your own world, and vice versa.

Criteria for Assessment:

Show you can explain theoretical approaches from the unit in your own words.
NB no formal referencing is required for this assignment, but you should indicate where the idea came from. For example: "This supports what Johan Galtung says about cultural violence, in his chapter on the subject in the unit readings..."
Clarity of explanation and expression.

Submit by April 16

Worth 25% of total marks

·  Final essay:  

Select a key issue of direct, cultural and/or structural violence to analyse using theoretical perspectives and peace-building strategies from this unit. In up to 3,000 words:

1. Select an issue of direct, cultural and/or structural violence for analysis. (For example, the issue might be a particular war or conflict, an issue of discrimination, poverty in a particular country, treatment of asylum seekers, Indigenous issues, domestic violence, bullying in schools, etc.)

2. Using theories from this unit (i.e. not from other courses you’ve done) that help to explain and analyse the issue, explore the nature and context of the issue chosen for your research essay. (For example, the theories of Galtung, Reardon, Lederach, Lynch etc.)

3. Building on the theories used to explain and analyse the issue, identify some possible strategies for change which promote “peace with justice”, linking your ideas to theories and practices of peacemaking, peacebuilding and/or conflict transformation. (For example, such strategies for change could include advocacy, activism, education, social movements, peace journalism, dialogue, nonviolence, feminist approaches, truth commissions, problem-solving workshops etc.)

The focus is on analysis and application of theory to practice, rather than on detailed description of the conflict or its “solution”. In other words, students are not required to promote a particular resolution or terms of a peace settlement or mediation agreement. The purpose is to identify peace with justice processes.

This assignment is to be written in a formal essay style, with an introduction and conclusion, complete in text referencing and a full bibliography at the end of the essay. Some research and reading beyond the prescribed unit of study readings is necessary for this assignment, but the main conceptual underpinnings for your essay must be the theories and concepts explored in this unit.

Criteria for assessment:
Evidence of research and understanding of the nature and context of the issue chosen for analysis;

Ability to identify and critically apply theories and concepts relating to peace, conflict and violence to explain and analyse the issue;

Evidence of creative and intelligent application of theory to practice by exploring one or more strategies for change that promote “peace with justice”;

Clarity of expression and ability to develop and present a coherent argument within the required word limit (papers exceeding the word limit may be penalised);

Evidence of reflective and critical reading of appropriate academic sources; Correct and consistent referencing and full bibliography.

Submit by April 30

Worth 60% of total marks

Self-introduction and ideas of peace

In 500 words or so: Post as answer in discussion board on Canvas site.

Submit by March 5

Worth 5% of total marks

Seminar participation

Week by week – worth 10% of total marks.


Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this unit.

Site visit guidelines

There are no site visit guidelines for this unit.

Work, health and safety

There are no specific work health and safety requirements for this unit.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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