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Peace and Conflict Studies MA

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Course description

This interdisciplinary MA explores the processes through which actors have attempted to define and build peace in areas affected by violence. Drawing on expertise from the fields of history, politics, anthropology and the arts, this new course will offer students the opportunity to critically address the conceptualization of peace and the implementation of peacebuilding projects by global, regional, national and local actors.


1. Key issues and debates related to the theories of peace and practices of peacebuilding. Students will show familiarity with different theoretical approaches, practical problems and an appreciation of the diversity of policies at international, regional, national and sub-national levels.

2. The range of social science topics which influence peacebuilding (including political, historical, anthropological understandings of peace and related programming).  Students will become familiar with the methodological and normative underpinnings of these disciplines and their concomitant effect on peacebuilding

3. The analytical and policy literature concerning the related issues of peacebuilding, including international governance structures, the concept of statebuilding, foreign policy analysis and the role of  key actors and institutions including the state, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and domestic NGOs as well as the military and other security actors.

4.  An understanding of local approaches to peacebuilding, including an awareness of the problems and critiques associated with `bottom up' approaches.

5.  The development of a range of academic and professional/transferrable skills through both independent and group-based work6. A detailed understanding of a specific conceptual and/or policy-related area of peacebuilding along with  implications and limitations of research findings on this subject, and of how to produce an original piece of academic research. Delivered via the dissertation module.

Special features

The Institute is developing a novel configuration for research and teaching which will uniquely associate practitioners, non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, theoreticians, policy makers and analysts in sustained intellectual engagement. Combining a targeted programme of research with the provision of timely analysis on current emergencies and conflicts, the institute will seek to develop new methodologies in the emerging field of humanitarian and conflict response research.

Teaching and learning

This MA will be influenced and informed by the research of both staff and post graduate research students at the institute including research projects on:

  • Political space in the aid industry
  • Local/hybrid approaches to peacebuilding
  • The contribution of BRICS nations to peace and security programming
  • Critical peace studies
  • The role of the state in peace and security programming
  • Ethnographic approaches to understanding violence
  • Refugees and internally displaced persons
  • The political economy of conflict
  • Performance in conflict and disaster zones
  • Historical analyses of aid

Coursework and assessment

  • Research essays (3000 words +)
  • The running of group workshops
  • Reflective journals/learning logs
  • Contribution to group discussion boards (electronically)
  • Oral presentations
  • Literature reviews/research design

Course content for year 1

Core Modules (15 Credits Each)  Students must take all of the following:

Peacebuilding: Inquiries

Peacebuilding: Case Studies

Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction

Reconstruction & Development (IDPM)

Dissertation (12 000 - 15 000 words) (60 Credits)

Optional Modules:  Students to choose 60 credits from the following:

Responding to Illegal Economies & Political Violence (15 Credits)

Humanitarian and Conflict Response: Inquiries  (15 Credits)

History of Humanitarian Aid (15 or 30 Credits)

Global Health (15 Credits)

Conflict Analysis (IDPM) (15 Credits)

Ethics in World Politics (Politics) (15 Credits)

Security Studies (Politics) (15 Credits)

Human Rights in World Politics (15 Credits)

Performance Theory and Practice (Drama) (30 Credits)

Scholarships and bursaries

The HCRI MA bursary will fund home fees or can be used as partial payment for the overseas fee. It is tenable for one year only. Applicants should state their interest in the award within the funding section of the online application form and also provide a personal statement (max 500 words) outlining why they have chosen to study this particular MA and what they will bring to the course. The HCRI MA bursary is awarded based on a number of criteria including previous academic performance, relevant professional experience, reference letters, and the quality of the reflections in the applicant's personal statement.  Deadline for applications is 1 June 2014.


John Rylands University Library

MA students at the HCRI are actively included in the Institute's research programme, participating in the institute's research seminars and master classes.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: