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Course content

This programme provides dynamic and critical study in Violence, Terrorism and International Security. It aims to help students develop a critical and analytical approach to problems in history and the contemporary world of these three 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.Queen’s University, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland offers a unique opportunity for our students to access and engage with a community context challenged by violence, terrorism and security. 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.

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 Terrorism
  • Global Terrorism

Plus one elective module/class from the following:

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

There are two different degrees available in Violence, Terrorism and Security - MA and PgDip.

The Post-Graduate Diploma (PgDip) consists of all the above six core taught modules/classes, but students do not complete an MA dissertation. The PgDip is a credit-bearing and internationally recognised post-graduate degree, but it is not the equivalent to a Master’s degree. It is both an entry and exit route.

The Master’s degree (MA) in Violence, Terrorism and Security is awarded to students who successfully complete six core taught modules/classes and the MA dissertation.

Moving from a PgDip to an MA: Students who are registered on the PgDip are invited to register and complete the MA upon successful completion of the six core taught modules/classes. 

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.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching hours take place in morning/afternoon/night.

  • Each module usually consists of 2-4 contact teaching hours per week, depending on the module. Most study, however, consists of independent research and reading. Each student is also allocated a personal tutor/academic advisor who, alongside teaching in each module, aids in the learning process.
  • Modules involve a variety of teaching approaches designed to inspire critical and transferable skills.
  • Learn with award winning teachers. Teachers in the MA VTS programme are leading experts in their field. Many have been granted teaching awards for their innovative and engaging pedagogical approaches.
  • There are multiple talks, events, and extra-curricular activities and training courses on campus each year, outside of the formal VTS programme, that are related to Violence, Terrorism and Security.
  • It is anticipated that internship opportunities in Belfast will be made available to students.

Career Prospects

The PgDip 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.


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

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