Peace and Conflict Studies - MSc
The course offers unique opportunity to study peace and conflict in a vibrant society emerging from a violent past.Take a look
In this section
The course offers unique opportunity to study peace and conflict in a vibrant society emerging from a violent past.
This internationally renowned programme is offered by leading academics from the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University. The MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies offers the student a unique opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary graduate programme characterised by academic excellence, within the context of a vibrant and culturally rich society emerging from conflict.
This programme attracts students from a number of countries and a wide variety of academic backgrounds. This programme has a strong focus on critically assessing the causes of consequences of conflict and examining the theories and practices of post-violence peace building, which is appropriate given that it is rooted in a society emerging from decades of protracted violence.
The past decades have seen tremendous changes in the global context. This has included the rise in ethnic conflict and increasing demands for their peaceful resolution and the reconstruction of affected regions and states. As a result, the demand for well-trained individuals to work on the myriad of peace and conflict issues continues to rise. The geographical scope of INCORE’s work in research, policy and practice is both local and global and this is reflected in the modules offered on the programme and this course is designed to enhance student employability within the academic and applied field of peace and conflict studies.
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About this course
In this section
One of the core strengths of the MSc programme in Peace and Conflict Studies at Ulster University is its location. Northern Ireland is a society emerging from conflict and students on the programme has an opportunity to explore not only the theoretical and practice debates of conflict transformation and peacebuilding in the classroom but to see how peace is negotiated and delivered at both political and community level on a daily basis. With exit points at PgCert and PgDip levels, this programme provides a structured learning opportunity to analyze the dynamic and constantly changing field of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Focusing on the latest research and concepts in peace and conflict studies and practice, participants are invited to compare, contrast and learn from different contexts and perspectives.
The emphasis of the INCORE programme is consistent with the vision of Ulster University to be a leading provider of professional education for professional life and the geographical scope of INCORE’s work in research, policy, and practice is both local and global.
The programme stresses the development of skills relevant to graduates who want to go on to be practitioners, researchers and policymakers in the peace and conflict field. The overall approach seeks to develop the critical, theoretical and analytical skills necessary for working in conflicted societies – in ways that are grounded in real life application and case studies.
Students in the programme have access to leading academics and practitioners working to address both the causes and consequences of conflict locally and internationally, and to promote better peacemaking and peacebuilding strategies. The experience of engaging with leading academics and practitioners in the field is a hallmark of the programme and the location of the programme in Northern Ireland ensures that there is an open door between classroom and experiential learning.
The knowledge and capacities developed by students are transferable across sectors and regions, making their skill-set mobile and flexible within a globalised job market. Graduates of the programme will have key research and practice skills which will equip them to pursue careers in a wide range of fields, including conflict resolution, human rights, community and economic development, social justice, psychosocial interventions, education, law, social work and politics among others. Development and humanitarian organisations, in particular, are increasingly recognising the value of employing staff with a strong understanding and knowledge of conflict resolution and peacebuilding issues, particularly given the prevalence of tensions and conflict in developing countries. The knowledge and skills gained during the MSc. in Peace and Conflict Studies also has applicability and desirability for employers within the public and private sector, particularly in the areas of negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution.
The MSc takes one calendar year. You will normally be expected to attend class for 4-5 hours on two days a week during Semester One (Sept- Jan) and Semester Two (Jan - May). Students conduct their dissertation during Semester Three (June - Sept). The programme will be supplemented with seminars and lectures by visiting academics and practitioners, as well as field visits.
- September 2019
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Foundations of Peace and Conflict Studies
This module will provide an advanced introduction to key concepts, ideas and debates in this field of study of peace and conflict studies, as well as introduce the student to contemporary debates and approaches to conflict analysis and intervention. Students will develop a theoretical grounding as well as the analytical skills to analyse, understand and apply different approaches and interventions in peace and conflict.
Foundations of Social Science Research
This module will introduce students to some of the key concepts, ideas and debates in social science research. The module will also introduce students to the main stages in the research process, the main approaches and methods and will give students a firm foundation in the basics of social research that will prepare them for other research methods modules.
Peacebuilding: Concepts and Approaches
The purpose of this module is to provide students with a thorough grounding of the academic field of peacebuilding and the different approaches and interventions employed within it. Drawing on a range of international examples, the student will gain an understanding of the various definitions and theoretical understandings of peacebuilding and will develop a broad understanding of the various structural, economic, social and psychological impacts which require attention following violent conflict.
Researching Conflict and Peace
This module will bring students to the point where they can understand the basic ethical and methodological issues involved in conducting research in divided societies. In particular the module will provide students with an in-depth understanding of key concepts across research methodologies and key issues in researching certain groups. The module will assist students in devising a research proposal and in the selection and application of relevant methods through which research questions outlined in the proposal can be addressed.
This module enables students to develop and apply research skills in a 15,000 word dissertation, that rigorously explores, critically analyses, and systematically addresses a research question or issue in the interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies.
The Northern Ireland Conflict
This module is optional
This module on the Northern Ireland conflict aims to give students a detailed overview of the historical roots and longevity of the Northern Ireland conflict. It will also seek to provide the student with an understanding to enable them to explore and analyse the various participants in the conflict, their motivations, objectives and tactics. In addition it will seek to explore the role and use of political violence in the escalation and maintenance of the conflict, to identify the turning points, and to examine and critique the various components of the 1998 peace accord. Finally the module will offer an opportunity to examine some of the social and economic issues facing Northern Ireland society as it emerges out of decades of conflict.
Memory, Identity and Dealing with the Past
This module is optional
This module will provide the development of the analytical and theoretical skills to understand the importance of memory in constituting identities and how it can be used constructively to transform conflicts at individual, group and political levels.
Policy in Divided Societies
This module is optional
Policy debates are central to the way societies make sense of social and political conflicts in their midst. Drawing on a wide range of policy fields and country case studies, this module critically appraises how such policy dynamics unfold in the particular contexts of divided societies.
Racial politics of conflict and migration
This module is optional
The study of migration and 'race' is an essential element to scholarship in peace and conflict today. This module traces the legacies of colonialism, imperialism and historic migrations through engagement with case studies from around the world, identifying and understanding contemporary challenges.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
A second class Honours degree or above or equivalent recognised qualification in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law or a cognate discipline. Allowance may be made for special qualifications, experience and background, and students with other academic backgrounds will be considered, where applicants can demonstrate their ability to undertake the programme through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) or accreditation of prior learning (APL).
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
Students of an interdisciplinary programme such as the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies are well placed to follow a number of distinct career opportunities, based on their specific interests and core strengths. The past decades have seen tremendous changes in the global context. As a result, the demand for well-trained individuals to work on the myriad of peace and conflict issues continues to rise. The knowledge and capacities developed by INCORE peace and conflict studies students are transferrable across sectors and regions, making their skill set mobile and flexible within a globalised job market.
Graduates of the programme will have key research and practice skills which will equip them to pursue careers in a wide range of fields, including conflict resolution, human rights, community and economic development, social justice, psychosocial interventions, education, law and politics among others. Development and humanitarian organisations, in particular, are increasingly recognising the value of employing staff with a strong understanding and knowledge of conflict resolution and peacebuilding issues, particularly given the prevalence of tensions and conflict in developing countries. The knowledge and skills gained during the programme also has applicability and desirability for employers within the public and private sector, particularly in the areas of negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution.
Past graduates have gone on to complete doctoral research and to develop careers as specialists working in multi-lateral organisations including the UN and the EU.
Work placement / study abroad
INCORE has strong working relationships with a range of organisations working on issues of peace and conflict, and can help facilitate internship opportunities for those students who wish to gain practical work experience during, or after, the programme.
Fees and funding
In this section
Fees (total cost)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- £14,060.00 Scholarships available
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Grainne Kelly
Admissions Contact: Ruth McKeegan
For more information visit
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