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Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding - MSc


Course Description

The focus of governments and humanitarian NGOs has progressively shifted towards conflict prevention and building sustainable peace. Yet to prevent conflict or to build a secure and inclusive state and society after conflict involves a complex set of skills straddling conflict analysis, conflict mediation and negotiation, peace processes, state stabilisation, post-conflict reconstruction, peace building and early warning.

This inter-disciplinary, custom-designed MSc offers the opportunity to develop operational and vocational skills for conflict prevention and peacebuilding within the context of the latest theories on conflict and conflict prevention. Students will acquire the analytical skills to map conflict dynamics, design conflict sensitive projects and develop early warning mechanisms, enabling them to better predict, and so avoid, the outbreak of violent conflicts. They will also gain the skills necessary to assess and evaluate the impact and outcomes of interventions.

The MSc is designed for practitioners looking to enhance their existing skills, as well as graduates with a career in conflict prevention, conflict mediation, or post-conflict reconstruction in mind. It is particularly aimed at those seeking to work or already working in the (I)NGO sector, governmental departments or inter-governmental organisations.

While rooted in peace and conflict studies, the MSc draws on strategic and security studies as well as development studies, enabling much needed cross-fertilisation between these traditionally divergent perspectives. It draws on real-life case studies as well as interactive role plays, and exposes students to both cutting-edge academic developments and the latest practitioner experience, with a particular focus on bottom-up approaches.

Courses are taught by a mixture of academics and practitioners, and cover both critical and problem-solving approaches. Conflict dynamics are analysed drawing on multiple disciplines, including security studies, peace studies, anthropology, law, archaeology, history and political theory. Modules include both traditional, term-long modules and short, usually more skills-oriented continuing professional development courses as well as fieldtrips (e.g. fieldtrips have been organised to Nepal, Kenya, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Kosovo).

Student Profiles

"What I really like about DGSi programs is that they are able to match a great theoretical understanding of the issues I am interested in with a clear focus on the practical skills that are required for working in the field." Lianne Vostermans, 2013/14

“Having co-sponsorship from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK and Durham University, I was able to accomplish my Chevening scholarship doing MSc Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CPP) at Durham Global Security Institute (DGSi). Although it was found to be quite intensive and intellectually challenging, I have no doubt that this master programme will equip junior diplomats like me with necessary knowledge and skills, especially in security and peacebuilding domains, so that we can contribute our best capacities in the making of the world a more peaceful home to the whole mankind.” Chan Aye, 2015/16

“I chose the Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Master because of its interdisciplinary character, topics and the combination between theory and practice. During the course I have had the opportunity to meet very many interesting scholars, practitioners and very intelligent and diverse fellow students, from different cultural and academic backgrounds. The course gave me insight in things I had only read about in books before by confronting us with people who have actually been in the field, and by taking us there ourselves through the study trip and fieldwork opportunities for our dissertations. I have learned to look at conflict situations from new perspectives, something I hope to use in future employment in order to help create a more peaceful world.” Marit Jansen, 2014/15

Course Structure

The MSc will provide students with advanced knowledge of the complex and specialised areas of peacebuilding, among it conflict analysis, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and conflict transformation, community driven reconstruction, peace processes within the context of contemporary conflicts and in the context of broader international (humanitarian) interventions. Integrated into the MSc structure are opportunities to develop operational and vocational skills for example in negotiations, conflict mediation, conflict sensitive programme design and programme management, or urban peacebuilding. Students are provided with theoretical and empirical knowledge and with practical skills that are helpful for current and future employment opportunities. The courses are thus attractive to both graduates and mid-career practitioners. Whilst the academic and applied focus of the MSc comes through a peace and conflict studies analytic lens, course material will also draw from traditional strategic/security and development studies, enabling cross fertilisation between different perspectives. It allows the exploration of unique and new paradigms and practices in the fields of conflict, peace, security, defence, diplomacy, development and humanitarian intervention.

Five core modules worth 75 credits plus a Dissertation worth 60 credits plus three optional modules to the value of 45 credits.

Core Modules
-Defence, Development and Diplomacy in Conflict: Evolving Actors, Factors and Paradigms
-Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace
-Responses: Peace Processes and Political Negotiation
-Recovery and Reconstruction: Consolidating Peace after Violence
-Capstone Exercise: Humanitarian Intervention Simulation (in MSc-specific roles)

Dissertation.
Optional Modules - Optional modules in previous years have included:
-Religion, Culture and Conflict
-Conflict Mediation
-Fieldtrip
-Conflict Sensitive Programme Management
-Re-thinking Counter Terrorism
-Urban Violence - Urban Peacebuilding
-International Negotiation as Instrument in Conflict Management
-Policing Post-Conflict Cities
-Conflict Analysis

Learning and Teaching

At the beginning of the academic year, as well as the general induction programme offered by the School and the university, Durham Global Security Institute (DGSi) students are invited to a programme specific induction. This induction provides an overview of the programme an opportunity to meet members of the team and an opportunity to discuss optional module choices.

The 180 credits one-year MSc degree programme is divided into five core and three optional modules of 15 credits each. Students also have to submit a dissertation (60 credits) of not more than15,000 words. Practitioners have the option of writing an in-depth policy document as their dissertation.

Most of the modules are delivered during the first two terms and students spend the remaining time to write the dissertation. Assessment methods include: an examination, essays, presentations, reflective journal, reports, article reviews and policy briefs.

Although all modules have 18/19 contact hours, the core modules are spread over 9/10 weeks and 132 hours of self-directed learning. The modules are mainly delivered through weekly 2-hour sessions which take the form of a one hour lecture and a one hour tutorial. The form in which seminars are conducted can differ from one module to another. Typically modules would have elements of lectures, discussions, and presentations from students—the extent of each of these components would differ from one module to another. The optional modules of the programme are either delivered over two full days, through a mixture of lectures, Q&A sessions, seminar discussions, and role plays or over a single term in 2-hour seminar sessions. There is also the opportunity to participate in a study visit which provides an opportunity to investigate issues ‘in the field’ concerned with conflict prevention, conflict resolution, state and peace-building. Of particular interest is the theory-practice linkage

Students can also meet their module coordinators or programme coordinator during their weekly contact hours or by making an appointment. When students are working on their dissertations during the latter half of the year, they are required to attend two 4-hour workshops. In addition, they have the opportunity to meet their assigned supervisors for an average of 6 meetings. Students also have access to the MSc Programme Director and the School’s Director of Taught Post Graduate Studies whenever there is a need.

The School hosts events throughout the year which all postgraduate students are invited to attend. Students are also fully integrated into the Durham Global Security Institute which also hosts guest lectures and seminars throughout the year. These events provide students with the opportunity to engage with, and debate, the most important issues in current political and international studies, and in conflict, peace and security studies.

Towards the end of the programme students can contact the Careers Office of the University to get advice on available job prospects and get assistance on applying for these.

Visit the Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding - MSc page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A 2.1 or First at BA level or the international equivalent.

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