Übung: Comparative methods for studying conflict across states, regions and time

Instructor: Hannah Smidt

Course Description:

The „Übung” in the module „International Relations” deals with benefits and challenges of comparing secondary data on violent conflict and its origins and causes across states, subnational units, and time. First of all we will discuss the conceptual equivalence and (cultural) bias in concepts such as human rights abuses or democracy, if we compare different states or sub-state communities (regions). Secondly, we take a closer look at possible operationalisations for these concepts in order to conduct international comparisons. Relating to the latter point – the comparability of empirical phenomena across time and space – we will discuss the strength and weakness of several indices and measurements for interstate and intrastate conflict, non-state conflicts and political violence by reviewing several secondary datasets. Thereby the students will also receive an overview over the available quantitative data in this field of research. In order to prepare the students for their final thesis, the course discusses various methodological solutions to problems in cross-national comparative inquiry in peace and conflict studies and shall provide students with tools for developing their own research design in order to answer a specific research question.


Van de Vijver, Fons J.R. & Kwok Leung. 2011. “Equivalence and bias: A review of concepts, models, and data analytic procedures.” In: David Matsumoto & Fons J.R. van de Vijver (Hg.). Cross-Cultural Research Methods in Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 17-45.

Course Requirements: Course requirements include regular attendance, active class participation.

Assessment: Oral presentation and research paper (both in English)

Registration: Via Studierendenportal

Dates and Times:

Class in English: Monday 10:15-11:45 (weekly), from 11.02.2013 to 27.05.2013, Room: A 5, 6 Bauteil B – B 317

Class in German: Monday 19:00-20:30 (weekly), from 11.02.2013 to 27.05.2013 Room: B 6, 23-25 Bauteil A (Hörsaalgebäude) – A 1.02