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MA Peace and Conflict Studies

Course Description

This interdisciplinary MA explores the processes through which actors have attempted to define and build peace in areas affected by violence. Drawing on expertise from the fields of history, politics, anthropology and the arts, this new course will offer students the opportunity to critically address the conceptualization of peace and the implementation of peacebuilding projects by global, regional, national and local actors.

Course aims
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.

Course content for year 1

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

- Peace and Social Agency, Security and Intervention: Theories and Practices
- Practical approaches to studying conflict-affected societies
- Humanitarian Practice in Situations of Armed Conflict
- Reconstruction & Development (IDPM)

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

Optional Modules: Students to choose 60 credits from the following:

- Arab Revolts and Revolutionary State Formation (15 Credits)
- Humanitarian and Conflict Response: Inquiries (15 Credits)
- History of Humanitarian Aid (15 or 30 Credits)
- Global Health (15 Credits)
- Conflict Analysis (IDPM) (15 Credits)
- Ethics in World Politics (Politics) (15 Credits)
- Security Studies (Politics) (15 Credits)
- Human Rights in World Politics (15 Credits)
- Performance Theory and Practice (Drama) (30 Credits)

*please note that this is an indicative list and course modules may vary from year to year.

Visit the MA Peace and Conflict Studies page on the University of Manchester website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Susan Ryan


After working as a journalist online, in print and on radio for four years, I wanted to find out more about the dynamics and nuances of conflict and post-conflict situations. I was particularly interested in what happened after ceasefires had been agreed – how does life carry on? What do people do to help themselves and their society recover from conflict?

I applied to study for an MA in Peacebuilding at HCRI because I wanted to develop a better – and more critical – understanding of the theories, practices and processes of peacebuilding.

I researched a number of different courses, and HCRI received the best recommendations from people in the field, primarily on the strength of the staff. I'm particularly enjoying the multidisciplinary aspect of the course; being able to take modules from different schools has been really interesting. I hope that the course will prove invaluable in my future work as a journalist, as well as opening up different opportunities for further research.


Entry Requirements

An Upper Second Class Bachelor's degree or the overseas equivalent although each application is judged on its own merits and exceptions to this entry requirement may be made.

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Recipient: University of Manchester

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