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Course content

This interdisciplinary MA explores the processes through which actors have attempted to define and build peace in areas affected by war and violence, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Drawing on expertise from the fields of history, politics, anthropology and the arts, this newly revamped course will offer students the opportunity to engage with conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peacebuilding and statebuilding theories and practices.

 Moreover, the programme will critically address the conceptualization of peace and the implementation of peacebuilding projects by global, regional, national and local actors, including the UN, the International Financial Institutions, development agencies and donors, INGOs, and local organisations in conflict-affected environments. In particular, it will focus on social agency for peace, the question of the nature of the `peaceful state', and the ever-fraught question of the reform of the international system. The dynamics of these various contributions to peace will be the focus of a guided engagement, via local partner organisations, with the range of peace and conflict management actors present in either Bosnia Herzegovina or Cyprus (in Semester II).

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.

Additional voluntary workshops and events throughout the year further enhance study including:

   The evidence of objects, a trip to the Imperial War Museum (North)

   Other Case Briefings (e.g., Cyprus, Arab Uprisings)

   Policy Sessions: UN system and INGOs (Professor Dan Smith, International Alert)

   Manchester Peace and Social Justice Walk

   Working with Governments (Professor Dan Smith, International Alert)

   Regular `Leading Voices' workshops, with key thinkers in the field

Students studying this programme will also benefit from possible additional activities, such as:

   Student organised trips to London (International Alert ), New York (UN/IPA ) and Brussels

   Case Study Internships

   Attendance at the annual Peacebuilding conference in Manchester and potential participation in student panels.

Teaching and learning

Delivery of the course will take a range of forms, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, directed reading, a guided walk, a museum trip, a field trip and independent study. Much of the delivery will be problem based/enquiry based learning.

This MA will be influenced and informed by the research of both staff and postgraduate research students at the Institute including research projects on:

  •    Political space in the aid industry
  •    Local/hybrid approaches to peacebuilding
  •    The contribution of BRICS nations to peace and security programming
  •    Critical peace studies
  •    The role of the state in peace and security programming
  •    Ethnographic approaches to understanding violence
  •    Refugees and internally displaced persons
  •    The political economy of conflict
  •    Performance in conflict and disaster zones
  •    Historical analyses of aid

Career opportunities

 Students completing this MA may consider a wide range of career choices, including careers with:

  • Civil Service (working within various government ministries, including the foreign office, international development office)
  • International Institutions (such as the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and regional bodies such as the European Union, African Union, Organization of American States)
  • NGOs (local and international) working on peacebuilding initiatives
  • Academia/Research Institutes/Think-Tanks

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

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