Politics of Deeply Divided Societies - POLI6540

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This module explores the linkages between mediation theory and the practice of conflict resolution in deeply divided societies. Topics include the theory and practice of negotiations, conflict escalation and peace mediations while specific emphasis will be given to the role of regional or international institutions in early conflict prevention. The module applies negotiation theory in the study of state disintegration, demographic and environmental conflict, property rights, federal management and transitional justice. The course engages with the core literature in negotiation theory and exposes students to a number of simulations aiming to improve negotiation skills (identifying best alternatives, revealing or not preferences, identifying win-win arrangements, defeating spoilers and exercising veto rights). Because of the practical skills taught in the module and the interactive nature of in-class simulations, students are expected to attend lectures and tutorials. Finally, the course examines the role of citizens and community organizations in peace mediations focusing on a number of selected case studies from deeply divided societies specifically Israel/Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, South Africa, Greece/Turkey (including Cyprus & the Kurdish issue), Rwanda and Northern Ireland.


Contact hours

150 hours including 11 hours of lectures; 11 hours of seminars; 128 hours independent study.

Method of assessment

50% coursework: 50% exam

Indicative reading

Horowitz, Donald. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

McGarry, John and Brendan O’Leary. The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation. London: Routledge, 1993

Kymlicka, Will (1995). Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, (Oxford: Clarendon Press). read chapters 1,2,6 pages (1-33 and 108-130)

Arend Lijphart, 1969. “Consociational Democracy,” World Politics, Vol.21 (2): 207-225

Fisher, Roger and William Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Penguin, 1983

Radha Kumar, “The Troubled History of Partition,” Foreign Affairs 76, 1 (January/February 1997): 22-34

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Comprehend history and contemporary problems facing deeply divided societies.

Develop expertise on the main methods and theoretical approaches to mediation and conflict resolution.

Learn how to understand and evaluate opposing views and frameworks in the study of deeply divided societies.

Learn basic negotiation skills and participate in group simulations aiming to discuss and resolve problems in deeply divided societies.

Examine and evaluate principal institutional responses to protracted conflicts and apply those to deeply divided societies.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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