Causes of Peace

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 2FK050

Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Peace and Conflict Studies A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 25 May 2015
Responsible department
Department of Peace and Conflict Research

Entry requirements

A Bachelor of Arts degree with at least 90 credits in courses in social sciences.

Learning outcomes

After the course, students should be able to:

  • Critically deliberate upon the different components of the concept of peace and demonstrate knowledge on the different ways in which peace can be measured.
  • Demonstrate a deepened understanding of the different explanations to peaceful relations between states and be able to apply concept such as “security communities” and “zones of peace”.
  • Trace the crucial causes of peace in countries that have been spared from intrastate armed conflict, despite sharing numerous characteristics with countries that have experienced such conflicts. As part of this, students should be able to identify conditions that are crucial for cooperation between groups.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of empirical examples of “zones of peace”.
  • Independently delimit, design and write a final course memo within the specified time limit.


Peace and conflict research arose as a field devoted to understanding the causes of war; contemporary peace and conflict research also focuses on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Causes of peace, however, are understudied. Shifting the focus from causes of war to causes of peace can generate profound insights about peace – as well as war – as it asks new questions which may highlight factors previously overlooked. Empirically, the peace and conflict research field focuses on countries in conflict or in a post conflict stage, thus, countries that never have experienced conflicts are neglected. In addition, very little has been done on why some areas in a region of civil war remain at peace. This course arises from this lacuna and will focus on the concept of peace as well as the causes to inter- and intrastate peace.

The course is divided into three sub-themes. First, the concept of peace will be discussed as well as ways in which peace can be measured. Second, causes of interstate peace will be examined. In this section concepts such as security communities and zones of peace will be central. Third, the origins of intrastate peace will be studied. A crucial component of this is to scrutinise conditions for intergroup cooperation. Finally and importantly, the course will also examine why certain areas of a country suffering from civil war remain tranquil.


Instruction/teaching is given in the form of lectures and various student-led seminars.


Examination and final grading is based on student performance in two respects:

  • A final course memo in the form of a written academic paper.
  • Active participation during seminars and lectures.

Grades: Pass with distinction (VG), Pass (G), Fail (U). Two retake opportunities are offered per year.