Programme Description

Why are people or states violent? What does it achieve and what are the costs? How does conflict affect development and how does development affect conflict? This course presents a range of theories and case studies to examine the linkages between conflict and development, between inequality and violence, and between the structures and interests which contribute to the continuation of violence within and between countries. It provides students with an understanding of the causes and effects of violence, and of the interaction between different types of violence and the forms of security and insecurity that they promote. The course offers a thorough analytical understanding of the processes of violent conflict and a critical perspective on the policy implications for intervention.

The course is divided into three parts: First, we will explore the core concepts of conflict, development and violence, investigating these categories and how they interact. Second, we will explore and critically probe a range of explanations for the causes and consequences of violent conflict, focusing on explanations framed in terms of psychology, ethnicity, religion and borders. Finally, we will consider how security is organised within the state and in the international system, exploring how development interacts with insecurity and terror.

Throughout, the course will draw on case studies from a wide range of on-going and recent conflicts throughout the world, and students are asked to engage critically with key strands of literature, defining academic and policy debates about the causes and consequences of conflicts, and their interaction with national, human and international security. Students will critically examine the relevant literature, popular discourse and media portrayals of conflict to challenge assumptions and constructively engage with each other, reaching new understandings and strengthening analytical skills.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

·How wars and conflicts affect development processes and vice versa

·An ability to describe and critique major theories of conflict causes and consequences

·An understanding of national, human and international security priorities and how they are pursued.

Course Convenor

Dr Mark McQuinn is convenor of the Aid and Development unit on the MSc in Development Studies programme at SOAS, as well as lecturer on a number of other postgraduate and undergraduate courses. He worked in the NGO sector for a number of years on conflict and development issues and has undertaken a number of consultancies. Dr McQuinn is currently undertaking research for a book: African Labour Organisations in the Neoliberal Era, which focuses on issues including slavery and other forms of coercive labour, refugees, migration, the environment, youth, gender and civil society-state relations. He is also working on a project aiming to build capacity for African trade unions through a development of shared database on labour issues. A further area of research is Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by Southern donors. Dr McQuinn has worked on conflict and development issues in a number of countries, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, the Sudan, Thailand and Bulgaria.


This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and a Record of Study will be available on request.


Week 1: Concepts and approaches

  • Concepts, definitions and the links between conflict and development
  • Knowing about violence: trends, estimates and typologies of war
  • War and non-war violence

Week 2: Causes and consequences

  • Origins and theories of mass violence
  • Ethnicity and religion
  • Gender and sexual violence
  • Borders, migration and refugees

Week 3: Security and terror

  • Security continuities and discontinuities
  • Human security
  • Terror and counterinsurgency

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.

Teaching & Learning

Contact hours:

50 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours:

Monday - Friday 10am-3pm. In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc.).

Sample Reading list

  • Cramer, C. (2006). Civil War is not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London, Hurs

  • Duffield, M. (2007), Development, Security and Unending War: Governing the World of Peoples. Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Gutiérrez-Sanin, F. (2004), “Criminal Rebels? A Discussion of War and Criminality from the Colombian Experience ,” Politics and Society. Vol 32, No. 2 (2004): 257—85.

  • Human Security Report Project (2014), Human Security Report 2013 - The Decline in Global Violence: Evidence, Explanation and Contestation, HSRP: Simon Fraser University, Canada

  • Hyndman, J. and Giles, W. (2011), ‘Waiting for What? The Feminization of Refugees in Protracted Situations’ in Gender, Place and Culture.18 (3): 361-379

  • Parfitt, T.(2013), ‘Modalities of Violence in Development: structural or contingent, mythic or divine?’ Third World Quarterly, 34(7), pp. 1175-1192.

  • Paris, R. (2010), ‘Saving Liberal Peacebuilding’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 36, pp. 337-365.

  • Scheper-Hughes, N. and Bourgeois, P.(2004), Violence in War and Peace: an anthology, Oxford: Blackwell

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

  • Credit-assessed: £1,750
  • Non-assessed: £1,600

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


  • 10% early-bird discount when you apply by 31 March
  • 15% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)
  • 20% discount for our partner institutions
  • Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for further information.


For more information, please visit our website.

Entry Requirements

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the summer school, and 18+ years of age.
  • Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all subscores.
    • TOEFL Paper-based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills.
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
    • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses), you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.
    • Applicants with an alternative qualification should contact us for advice.
    • Applicants whose English language level do not meet out requirements may be interested in our subject-based courses with English language support.

Enrolment of Summer School applicants who don’t meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us in detail about your application.

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

25th May 2020

Program taught in:
  • English (US)
SOAS Summer School

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Last updated November 13, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
July 20, 2020
3 weeks
- £1,750 (credit assessed) or £1,600 (non-assessed), plus the additional £40 application fee. 10% early-bird discount if you apply by 31 March.
May 25, 2020
By locations
By date
Start Date
July 20, 2020
End Date
Aug 7, 2020
Application deadline
May 25, 2020

July 20, 2020

Application deadline
May 25, 2020
End Date
Aug 7, 2020