Master of Science
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences
The course offers a 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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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 have 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 in full-time mode. You will normally be expected to attend class for 4-6 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.
A variety of teaching and learning methods are used on the programme. Interactive class-based activities take the form of extensive topic overviews, case study work of societies in conflict and focused discussion based on directed reading. Lectures will be supplemented with podcasts and videos, as well as visiting experts. Students also have the opportunity to acquire skills in conflict analysis, ethics in conflict zones and writing research proposals. Each student benefits from individual research supervision for the thesis element of the course. A broad range of assessments are utilised academic essays; reflective assessments on directed reading; policy brief-writing; critical reviews of articles; and qualitative and quantitative data review.
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:
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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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.
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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Many of the teaching staff of both INCORE and the wider School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences are Fellows or Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and many hold relevant professional teaching qualifications including PgCUT and PgCHEP. All staff teaching on the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies programme are research active and regularly publish to international quality standards. Many of the teaching staff are also active peace and conflict practitioners bringing real-life experience to the classroom.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
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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.
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This module will provide an advanced introduction to key concepts, ideas and debates in this field of study of peace and conflict studies. The student will develop the analytical and theoretical skills to understand the origins of conflict and war, approaches to peace and the different theoretical traditions that underpin the field. The module will develop reflective skills so students can position their own thinking within the continuum of understandings of peace and conflict so are able to apply knowledge to understand contemporary conflicts and peace interventions.
Students will be introduced to contemporary debates and approaches to conflict analysis and intervention. The module will be use both theoretical and applied methodologies to apply this knowledge to real-world cases, as well as in-depth analysis of case studies.
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.
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.
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.
This module is optional
This module is designed as an integrated social sciences paradigm infused with a co-production theme.
The content is fashioned to raise the awareness of students to injustices oppression and discrimination that are embedded in personal, cultural and structural frames of reference. They will be challenged to explore how to tackle these issues using a community development approach that leads to sustainable social action.
The module is primarily focused on emancipatory praxis to promote critical dialogue and social action using a community development lens.
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.
This module is optional
This module provides students with a thorough knowledge of survey research and quantitative analysis. It takes students from an introduction to the principles and practice of elementary techniques through to use of advanced quantitative methods. Topics covered include survey methods and sampling as well as univariate, bivariate and multivariate techniques. Practical applications are used to give the student experience of data handling, analysis, inference and results presentation.
This module is optional
The module will introduce students to essential features of qualitative research through: conceptualizing research, constructing appropriate and effective data collection instruments, accessing archived data, interpreting and presenting research findings. Throughout, the module explores issues of ethics, access and accountability; and issues of application and limitation of different qualitative approaches in different exampled research contexts. This module is designed to introduce participants to approaches to research with groups who are most impacted by social inequality and to understand the ethical issues that apply to research with 'vulnerable groups', a term that is used here in the sense in which it is used by ethics approval committees. By the end of the module, students are expected to be conversant with qualitative research perspectives and methods, skilled in the techniques of qualitative research design and data collection, and competent in both manual and computer-aided qualitative data analysis (Nvivo), and will be required to demonstrate their newly acquired competencies through coursework.
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.
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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).
Applicants whose first language is not English Language requirements for international students: IELTS 6.0 or TOEFL 550.
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.
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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.
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.
Our postgraduate fees are subject to annual increase and are currently under review. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
John J. Sweeney Scholarship
Supporting US students undertaking a full-time MSc. This special scholarship is named in honour of AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J. Sweeney, the son of Irish immigrants, who dedicated his life to advancing the well-being of working people, making outstanding contributions to working people both in the US and internationally which will live on for years to come. More here.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
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