Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Statebuilding and State-Formation
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 9 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay, if essay element failed  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Develop an understanding of the historical origins and societal functions of the modern state both in Europe and the post-colonial world.
2. Identify and describe different types of states and their logics in a way that does not pathologise hybrid structures as deviations from a supposed ideal.
3. Compare and contrast different theoretical approaches to international statebuilding.
4. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of theoretical approaches in explaining the results of the international politics of statebuilding.
5. Identify common patterns and major differences in the strategies and results of international statebuilding in different cases of intervention.
6. Discuss the ways in which statebuilding strengthens or weakens states under intervention.
7. Demonstrate, through written work and in seminars, an ability to transfer insights from one region to another.
8. Critically assess the structural and moral dilemmas of the international politics of statebuilding.

Brief description

Since the mid-1990s, statebuilding has evolved into a standard tool of global governance. The idea is to build up and strengthen state institutions in underdeveloped or conflict-torn countries, following a western-liberal model, as basis for sustainable peace and development. The module examines genesis, rationale and instruments of the international politics of statebuilding and asks how this politics has affected the states under intervention. It does so by taking a historical and sociological perspective on processes of state-formation and their interrelation with attempts at statebuilding.

In the first part, the module focuses on the question of what modern stateness means. On the one hand, it examines the historical processes of state-formation in Europe and the ideal of the modern state evolving in parallel. On the other hand, the focus is on processes and results of the global expansion of modern stateness in the course of colonisation, de-colonisation and post-colonial politics. The state-formation processes in the post-colonial world show some commonalities, but also have resulted in a range of state types from neo-patrimonial and (post-)socialist states to developmental states such as India or Brazil. The first part of the module ends with a critical assessment of the discourse on weak and failed states.

Based on these historical and sociological insights into state-formation and stateness inside and outside the OECD world, the second part of the module examines the international politics of intervention since the early 1990s with a special focus on statebuilding. First, the two central paradigms of post-bipolar peacebuilding – liberalisation and institutionalisation – are discussed. Then, using the examples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan, the module analyses the effects of these strategies on the state. Finally, the comparison of these two cases allows for more general conclusions regarding the structural and conceptual limits to external state-building.


The module adds to the department's provision in the fields of International Politics, International History, Third World, and Strategic Studies. It enables students to develop an understanding of the role of the modern western state ideal in international (security) politics. Given the importance of the western ideal-type state in contemporary security thinking, it introduces students to a range of important and critical questions at the heart of the study of statebuilding politics, including: Where does the wide-spread ideal of modern stateness come from, and in how far does it match with real-type states? How does the historical process of modern state-formation in Europe differ from ensuing historical state-formation processes in the Third World? How can we grasp the results of these processes without pathologising societies whose organisation deviates from the Western state ideal? Based on these insights, what can we learn about the possibilities and limits of the contemporary international politics of statebuilding? In how far are today's processes of state-formation shaped by structures of world society? And, finally, what can we learn from all this for the future of international security governance?


1. Introduction: What is the state?
2. Historical and sociological approaches to state analysis

Part I: Historical processes of state-formation

3. Modern state-formation and international system in Europe
4. State-formation beyond Europe: tradition and modernity
5. Types of states
6. Weak and failed states

Part II: The international politics of statebuilding

7. From liberalisation to institutionalisation: peacebuilding strategies since 1990
8. The international politics of statebuilding I: advocates
9. The international politics of statebuilding II: critics

Part III: International statebuilding and dynamics of state-formation

10. Exporting the western state model I: Bosnia and Herzegovina
11. Exporting the western state model II: Afghanistan
12. Dilemmas of statebuilding I: structural limits
13. Dilemmas of statebuilding II: the interveners

14. Conclusions: The future of statebuilding

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay and preparation for seminar discussions will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: • Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module • Evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through teamwork.


This module is at CQFW Level 6