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MA Peace and Conflict Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Zoe Clarke

I read the course description and course unit outlines and felt so excited,

I immediately knew it was the course for me.

Zoe Clarke, UK / MA in Peace and Conflict Studies graduate

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 politics, history, 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 research visit with the range of peace and conflict management actors present in either Bosnia Herzegovina or Cyprus (in Semester II).

Aims

You 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.

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. You 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 written assignments in your coursework and dissertation.

Special features

Studens visiting Tito's bunker
Students visiting 'Tito's bunker', a secret nuclear bunker converted into contemporary art space hosting a rich art works collection, based around the topics of peace and conflict - Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Students at the Youth Centre in Mostar
Students in conversation with a representative of the Youth Cultural Centre 'Abraševi¿' - Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Students visiting Nansen Dialogue Centre in Mostar
Students visit the Nansen Dialogue Centre Office - Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Irene Baraldi

I was scared and excited at the same time since it meant moving abroad for the first time. Now, I can say that, although challenging, this was one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

I had a chance to meet many interesting people, both professors and students from all over the world. I also had the opportunity to undertake many inspirational experiences and above all, the fieldtrip research in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During the fieldtrip, I had the opportunity to meet and interview local peacebuilders. The meetings were so interesting that I decided to focus my dissertation on one of the topics of the interviews. Besides, I believe that talking to people who work to create peace every day is fundamental to understand local peacebuilding and I believe it is an essential step for those who want to work in the field of peace and conflict.

Irene Baraldi, Italy / MA Peace and Conflict Studies graduate
Students in conversation with an MP from the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Students in conversation with an MP from the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The programme is developed to offer a novel configuration for research and teaching which will uniquely associate perspectives of practitioners, non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, theoreticians, policy makers and analysts in sustained intellectual engagement.

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

  • case briefings (eg Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Arab Uprisings);
  • policy sessions: UN system and INGOs;
  • Manchester Peace and Social Justice Walk; and
  • workshops with key thinkers in the field

You will also benefit from additional activities, such as:

  • student organised trips;
  • case study internships;
  • Attendance at the annual peacebuilding conference in Manchester and participation in student panels.

Research trip

The fieldtrip is a working research trip. It is linked to the semester two core course unit on conflict sensitive research methods. The fieldtrip will take place towards the end of second semester and is designed to allow you to use, in a safe space, the research methodologies you've discussed in class.

The fieldtrip is to challenge the notion of conflict tourism, and instead to encourage research responsibility. That means that the fieldtrip is largely student organised, with students taking responsibility for organising meetings, being on time, making sure that research subjects are consenting to talking etc.

Experience of this research organisation is an important learning opportunity. The fieldtrip is not primarily about the information (data) gathered during the trip but also about the processes whereby the data is gathered.

These encourage us to think about the responsibilities of the researcher, the ethics involved and the sensitivities required in dealing with others.

Accommodation and travel costs are covered by The University of Manchester.

Teaching and learning

Delivery of the course will take a range of forms, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, directed reading, a research/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 department 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; and
  • Performance in conflict zones

Coursework and assessment

Students will be 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; and
  • Literature reviews/research design.

Course unit details

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

  • Peace and social agency

This module will introduce students to key theories and concepts related to the study of peace, security and conflict. It will expose students to key debates related to these topics (both conceptual and practical) and provide students with an appreciation of the diversity of relevant policies at the international, regional, national and sub-national levels. It will provide them with an analytical tool box which can be used to explore issues related to peacebuilding in theory and practice-tools which can be used in this module, other modules on the degree and in their professional lives.

  • Practical approaches to studying conflict-affected societies

This module explores issues of epistemology, positionality and research methods associated with field research in peacebuilding environments. This unit will involve a compulsory research trip that is intended to challenge the notion of a conventional field trip and to expose students to the practical and ethical dilemmas of field research.

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

Optional Modules: Students are expected to choose 90 credits (45 per semester) from the list of optional course units.

Course unit list

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 POLI70991 15 Mandatory
Practical Approaches to Studying Conflict Affected Societies POLI71102 15 Mandatory
Dissertation - MA Peace and Conflict Studies POLI79000 60 Mandatory
Border-Crossings: Comparative Cultures of Diaspora ELAN60362 15 Optional
Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries HCRI60031 15 Optional
A Critical Introduction to GIS and Disasters HCRI60072 15 Optional
Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction HCRI60131 15 Optional
Humanitarian Diplomacy: Examining the Actors, Issues and Norms HCRI60222 15 Optional
Disaster Governance HCRI60261 15 Optional
Reconstruction and Development MGDI60402 15 Optional
Power and Resistance in Postcolonial Societies POLI60092 15 Optional
Governing in an Unjust World: Justice and International Relations POLI60182 15 Optional
The Ethics Of Killing POLI60221 15 Optional
Global Governance POLI70422 15 Optional
Ethics in World Politics POLI70451 15 Optional
Debating Justice POLI70611 15 Optional
Critical Environmental Politics POLI70921 15 Optional
The Arab Uprisings and Revolutionary State Formation POLI70981 15 Optional
The United Nations and International Security POLI71112 15 Optional
The Politics of Global Climate Change POLI71141 15 Optional
Borders, Identities, Citizenship POLI72021 15 Optional
Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism SOAN60112 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 22 course units

Facilities

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.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk