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Course content

This programme provides dynamic and interdisciplinary analysis into fields of conflict studies and theories and concepts on violence, terrorism studies and international security. The MA in VTS helps students develop a critical and analytical approach to problems in history and the contemporary world in these three core areas. It challenges accepted wisdom and opens up the debate about the role of violence in relation to political power in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Successfully completing the MA can enhance students' opportunities for career advancement by developing their knowledge and skills, including the independent research skills required for the dissertation.

Course Details

Six taught modules, plus a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words.

Students will take:

3 core modules/classes in the autumn term:

  • Violence, Terrorism and Security
  • Approaches to Research Design
  • Contemporary Security

2 core modules/classes in the spring term

  • Conflict Intervention
  • Global Terrorism 

Plus one elective module/class from the following:

  • Ethnic Conflict
  • International Political Economy
  • Philosophy of Conflict and War

Over the summer term students complete a 15,000 word MA dissertation

Some recent MA VTS dissertation topics have included:

  • Bioterrorism and arms control
  • Child soldiers and international law
  • Counter-insurgency and targeted assassinations
  • Covert Intelligence and Collusion
  • Cultures of Youth Violence
  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Gender and Counter-terrorism

Assessment and Feedback

Assessment and Feedback are continuous throughout the course of study. 

Students are provided a range of assessment approaches, both formal and informal as well as formative and summative, in order to enhance the student learning experience and improve student attainment. Each module typically consists of two or three main pieces of assessment and can include essays, policy reports, simulations, presentations, among other forms of assessment.

Feedback is provided throughout the VTS programme for continuous student reflection and growth. Teachers provide thorough and systematic feedback on assessed work. Feedback is also available from your personal tutor as well as via various support mechanisms and training courses in the university, such as via the Student Guidance Centre.

Career Prospects

The MA in VTS provides you with the essential transferable skills and in-depth knowledge of theories and issues in the areas of violence, security and terrorism for career development at any stage, from students straight from an undergraduate degree with limited to no prior professional experience to those seeking continued professional development. The programme enables you to broaden your horizons providing you with a competitive edge in a global graduate market in a wide variety of areas such as the security sector, including intelligence agencies, government agencies and public office, the military, NGOs, academia, businesses and corporations, and the media among many other possibilities.

We are proud that many of our graduates have gone to serve in the most senior ranks of a number of National Police Services, and Law Enforcement Agencies, Border and Immigration Control, National Armed Forces including the US Army, US Air Force, US Secret Service, British Army and Irish Defence Forces. Our graduates also work as senior government policy advisers in a variety of different countries, including the State Department in the USA, in international NGOs in diverse parts of the globe including major conflict zones, other graduates have gone into international security consultancy, and many have worked in the media, and others have gone on to successful careers working for international business in a variety of capacities. The MA also provides the research skills and knowledge to carry out a PhD to pursue, as a number of our graduates have done, an academic career. 

Why Queen's

  • Queen’s University, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland offers a unique opportunity for our students to access and engage with a community context previously challenged by violence, terrorism and security as part of the programme of study. Our students have the opportunity to live and study in a post-conflict environment as well as meet people involved in Northern Irish conflict and the peace process, from researchers and policy makers to ex-combatants
  • World-class research: Students have the opportunity to study under world-class academics in the areas of Violence, Terrorism and Security such as Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, Professor Richard English, Dr Debbie Lisle, Dr Michael Bourne, Dr Heather Johnson, Dr Julie Norman, Dr Andrew Thomson, among many others. 

Visit the MA Violence, Terrorism & Security page on the Queen’s University Belfast website for more details!

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