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MA Peace and Conflict Studies
Benefit from specialist training at a leading centre for critical approaches to peace and conflict studies.

MA Peace and Conflict Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2016

Course description

This interdisciplinary MA explores the processes through which actors have attempted to define and build peace in areas affected by war and violence, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Drawing on expertise from the fields of history, politics, anthropology and the arts, this newly revamped course will offer students the opportunity to engage with conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peacebuilding and statebuilding theories and practices.

 Moreover, the programme will critically address the conceptualization of peace and the implementation of peacebuilding projects by global, regional, national and local actors, including the UN, the International Financial Institutions, development agencies and donors, INGOs, and local organisations in conflict-affected environments. In particular, it will focus on social agency for peace, the question of the nature of the `peaceful state', and the ever-fraught question of the reform of the international system. The dynamics of these various contributions to peace will be the focus of a guided engagement, via local partner organisations, with the range of peace and conflict management actors present in either Bosnia Herzegovina or Cyprus (in Semester II).


Students will be able to show a critical understanding of:

1. Key issues and debates related to the theories of peace and practices of peacebuilding, statebuilding, conflict management, resolution, and transformation. They will become familiar with the range of international actors and organisations, their policies and practices, and their pros and cons.

2. The range of social science topics that influence peacebuilding, statebuilding, conflict management, etc., (including political, historical, anthropological understandings of peace and related programming strategies). Students will become familiar with the methodological and normative underpinnings of these disciplines.

3. The analytical and policy literature concerning peacebuilding, international governance structures, statebuilding, and the role of key actors and institutions including NGOs and military and other security actors. Concurrently, students will be able to evaluate the theory and policy tools in the context of the recent history of peacebuilding and statebuilding since the end of the Cold War, in a range of examples, including across the Balkans, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, the recent and various Arab Revolts, and others.

4.  An understanding of local approaches to peacebuilding, including an awareness of the problems and critiques associated with `bottom up' approaches. Students will examine current debates on the nature of everyday peace and hybrid forms of peace, related questions about `local agency' and forms of resistance, activism, and social mobilisation.

5. Students will experience the on-the-ground realities of peacebuilding and statebuilding through a guided research visit to the range of actors involved in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Cyprus. This will form a key part of one of the core modules of the programme and will be run in association with local partners.

6.  The development of a range of academic and professional/transferrable skills through both independent and group-based work.

7. A detailed understanding of a specific conceptual and/or policy-related area of peacebuilding along with the implications and limitations of research findings on this subject, and of how to produce an original piece of academic research. This will be delivered via the dissertation.

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.

Additional voluntary workshops and events throughout the year further enhance study including:

    The evidence of objects, a trip to the Imperial War Museum (North)

    Other Case Briefings (e.g., Cyprus, Arab Uprisings)

    Policy Sessions: UN system and INGOs (Professor Dan Smith, International Alert)

    Manchester Peace and Social Justice Walk

    Working with Governments (Professor Dan Smith, International Alert)

    Regular `Leading Voices' workshops, with key thinkers in the field

Students studying this programme will also benefit from possible additional activities, such as:

    Student organised trips to London (International Alert ), New York (UN/IPA ) and Brussels

    Case Study Internships

    Attendance at the annual Peacebuilding conference in Manchester and potential participation in student panels.

Teaching and learning

Delivery of the course will take a range of forms, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, directed reading, a guided walk, a museum trip, a field trip and independent study.  Much of the delivery will be problem based/enquiry based learning.

This MA will be influenced and informed by the research of both staff and postgraduate 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

Students will assessed through several methods, with the aim of building up numerous academic and professional skills.  Forms of assessment will include:

    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

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Peace and Social Agency, Security and Intervention: Theories and Practices SALC60121 15 Mandatory
Practical Approaches to Studying Conflict-Affected Societies SALC61072 15 Mandatory
Border-Crossings: Comparative Cultures of Diaspora ELAN60362 15 Optional
Memory, Mediation & Intercultural Relations ICOM60041 15 Optional
English as a Global Language ICOM60051 15 Optional
Fundamentals of Epidemiology MEDN60991 15 Optional
Reconstruction and Development MGDI60402 15 Optional
Conflict Analysis MGDI60451 15 Optional
Global Governance POLI70421 15 Optional
Human Rights in World Politics POLI70492 15 Optional
Democracy: Theory & Practice POLI70871 15 Optional
Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries SALC60031 15 Optional
Humanitarian Responses to Crises: Case Studies SALC60042 15 Optional
Humanitarianism in Practice SALC60061 15 Optional
Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction SALC60132 15 Optional
Global Health and Food Insecurity SALC60152 15 Optional
Humanitarian Practice in Situations of Armed Conflict SALC60162 15 Optional
Humanitarian Diplomacy: Examining the Actors, Issues and Norms SALC60222 15 Optional
Cultures and Disasters SALC60252 15 Optional
Designing Relief Projects in Conflict and Disaster Settings SALC60271 15 Optional
Economics, Peace and Conflict SALC61142 15 Optional
The History of Humanitarian Aid SALC61201 15 Optional
Emergency Humanitarian Assistance SALC62212 15 Optional
SALC Placement (15cr) SALC70150 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 24 course units for year 1

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.


Manchester's learning resources are world-famous. The John Rylands University Library , with over 4.5m books and vast archives of historical material and rare volumes, is second to none.

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

Along with the computer and library facilities offered by the university and the school (including the School's new Graduate School), the HCRI also has a dedicated MA study space which includes a range of reading materials as well as a space for students to undertake independent study, or to hold group meetings.

Disability support

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