International Conflict Analysis - PDip, MA

Understand the nature and significance of conflict as a human condition. Develop the skills to prevent violent conflict, mitigate its catastrophic effects, and reconstruct societies in its aftermath. Embedded in our world renowned Conflict Analysis Research Centre, leading experts will help you explore the dynamics of deep-seated conflict and learn how states, international organisations, NGOs, and individuals can work towards enduring peace.

Overview

Gain the knowledge you need to pursue a career in international peace-keeping, crisis diplomacy, post-conflict reconstruction, and sustainable development. Focused case studies and interactive simulations will build your understanding of negotiation, mediation, diplomacy and third party intervention. Our alumni, who form an international network, have used this programme as a spring board into foreign offices and diplomatic services, international organisations such as the UN, EU and OECD, and NGOs including IRC and Amnesty International.

Reasons to study International Conflict Analysis MA/PDip at Kent

  • You will join our vibrant, diverse and international student community, bringing different perspectives into dialogue and facilitating a global network of close connections. Read about our first town hall on Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity.
  • You’ll be taught by world leading experts at the cutting edge of research, actively engaged in advising government and shaping debates.
  • You’ll gain a practical understanding of conflict analysis fundamentals, combined with the flexibility to follow your interest through a broad range of optional modules.
  • Our Canterbury campus offers an idyllic countryside setting on the edge of a lively student town, only an hour from London and a short train ride to Europe.
  • You’ll learn the fundamental skills of analysis, interpretation and prediction, combined with the flexibility to follow your interest through a broad range of optional modules.
  • High-profile engagement through the Global Europe Centre and the Conflict Analysis Research Centre, which crystallise our research, policy and practitioner networks into an annual schedule of events.

What you’ll learn

Develop concrete capabilities and critical insight into the challenges you could encounter in conflict environments. You’ll cover theories of conflict and violence through to resolving conflict in world politics. Apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of conflict to the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions, and practices

See the modules you'll study

About the School of Politics and International Relations

The School of Politics and International Relations is one of the most dynamic places to study Politics and International Relations. We combine high-quality teaching with cutting-edge research in a supportive environment that welcomes students from all over the world.

We pride ourselves on our global outlook, which is reflected in the wide range of international partnerships. We are the only politics and international relations school in the country with a postgraduate centre in Brussels, which allows students on some of our programmes to follow part or their entire programme in Brussels.

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time. Students who start in January, finish at the end of the Spring Term in the following academic year.

Full-time students who start in September complete the MA in International Conflict Analysis over 12 months. Study is divided between taught modules, which last for one term each, and dissertation work. Those who start their programme in January take their modules in the Spring Term and Autumn Term of the subsequent academic year consecutively, and write their dissertation over their second Spring Term.

The MA can be taken on a part-time basis, typically over two years.

The programme is also offered as a Postgraduate Diploma – comprising six taught modules only – worth 120 Kent credits (60 ECTS) which can also be taken on a part-time basis.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module will examine how conflict research has evolved within the field of political science and International Relations. It will initially investigate competing theories on conflict and violence highlighting specific case studies and new security concerns. The theoretical reflections will focus on the understanding of modern nationalism in world politics as well as different aspects of conflict ranging from inter-state to intra-state conflict. Moreover, students will be exposed to a detailed and critical analysis of the political and constitutional options in societies beset by violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of political accommodation.

Find out more about POLI8280

The module aims to introduce current thinking and practice in the field on conflict resolution, conflict management and conflict transformation, including conflict prevention and peace-building. Can protracted violent conflicts be prevented, and how are they brought to an end? Is it possible to deal with the root causes of conflict? How do the wider conflicts in the international system impact on local and regional conflicts, and under what circumstances are conflicts transformed? We will explore these questions with reference to theories of conflict resolution, comparative studies and case studies. The module will focus mainly on international and intra-state conflict. There will be opportunities to discuss conflicts at other levels, such as the role of diasporas and the media in conflict and its transformation. You are encouraged to draw on your own personal knowledge of conflict situations.

Find out more about POLI8320

This module introduces the research design and methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations. The aim of the module is twofold: (1) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand, compare and evaluate the design of, and methods used in, research in the field of politics and IR, and (2) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to design your own research project and to make informed choices with regards to the methods of research.

The module focuses on the logic behind various types of research design and the key features of different methods used in research in the field of politics and IR. It gives you the necessary tools, methods and approaches in order to succeed in your essays and your dissertation. It covers the key steps you need in order to write successful postgraduate essays and a successful MA dissertation. The lectures and workshops provide you with the tools to do so, and you will, in the parallel seminars, address a series of topics which are necessary to help you write your first term papers.

The topics which are covered include description and explanation, concept analysis and typologies, the role of theories and theoretical frameworks, delineating a topic and formulating a research question, formulating an argument, the comparative method, case studies and case selection, and historical and ethnographic research.

Find out more about POLI9640

To provide students with an understanding of academic research and an ability to identify and utilise appropriate strategies and techniques for the purpose of individual investigation, research and practice within a subject specific area of their course route. This module will prepare students to undertake the dissertation module in Stage 2 of their course.

Find out more about POLI9990

Optional modules may include

The module is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of politics in the Middle East. The module covers various social (e.g. identities), economic (e.g. role of natural resources) and religious (e.g. role of Islam) themes, and thus provides students with a wide-ranging perspective from which to analyse the political life of the region. Particular emphasis is placed on the nature and causes of conflict and political violence, and on the role of the state. The module also focuses on the historical development of the region as a way of helping students to understand the nature and causes of its contemporary political situation.

Find out more about POLI8109

This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

Find out more about POLI8114

Whenever we make a statement about international affairs, and world politics we rely on certain (often implicit) theoretical assumptions: about power, interests, identities, norms and how they relate to the behaviour of international actors. Whether we like it or not, we are 'doomed' to rely on theories. The starting-point of this course is not that theories are the only possible and all-encompassing approach to the study of international affairs, but that they are helpful to understand, compare and critically evaluate interpretations of international issues: if we all use theoretical assumptions, we better make them explicit and understood, to make sure what exactly we are claiming.

International Relations theories are not approached as strict categories with clear boundaries, but rather as a continuously evolving debate. The course does not attempt to give an encyclopaedic overview of all theories of International Relations, but rather to confront different views. The main objective is to understand the core differences between different theoretical approaches.

Find out more about POLI8240

This module will examine how conflict research has evolved within the field of political science and International Relations. It will initially investigate competing theories on conflict and violence highlighting specific case studies and new security concerns. The theoretical reflections will focus on the understanding of modern nationalism in world politics as well as different aspects of conflict ranging from inter-state to intra-state conflict. Moreover, students will be exposed to a detailed and critical analysis of the political and constitutional options in societies beset by violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of political accommodation.

Find out more about POLI8280

The module aims to introduce current thinking and practice in the field on conflict resolution, conflict management and conflict transformation, including conflict prevention and peace-building. Can protracted violent conflicts be prevented, and how are they brought to an end? Is it possible to deal with the root causes of conflict? How do the wider conflicts in the international system impact on local and regional conflicts, and under what circumstances are conflicts transformed? We will explore these questions with reference to theories of conflict resolution, comparative studies and case studies. The module will focus mainly on international and intra-state conflict. There will be opportunities to discuss conflicts at other levels, such as the role of diasporas and the media in conflict and its transformation. You are encouraged to draw on your own personal knowledge of conflict situations.

Find out more about POLI8320

The course provides an overview and a framework for considering the field of international conflict resolution. The students have the opportunity to explore conflict resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, collaborative problem solving, and alternative dispute resolution. The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches in conflict management with the scientific study of conflict and cooperation. Across the term students will be exposed to a range of different theories and approaches to conflict management and be required to practically apply the course content in a number of simulations.

Find out more about POLI8480

What determines pro-environmental outcomes and what are the obstacles to achieving such outcomes? This module looks at the politics of global environmental change at the international, national and individual level. Whether it is global environmental governance, national environmental policy making, or individual attitudes and behaviour, we need to understand what motivates actors and how a combination of motivations and structure translate into environmental outcomes in various contexts and societies.

This module provides you with the tools to explain the politics of global environmental change and environmental outcomes at the international, national and individual level. It equips you to develop political strategies to improve environmental outcomes. We do this by considering for example the design of international environmental institutions, the role of leadership, mobilisation, and climate communication. The module also equips you to provide political advice based on the latest available (political) science related to global environmental issues. We consider among other issues global environmental governance, international leadership, the role of civil society and lobbies in policy making, public support for environmental policy making, individual environmental attitudes and behaviour, and environmental conflicts.

Find out more about POLI8681

This module focuses on the evolution of security studies as a discipline and its implications for practice. We examine a variety of theoretical and empirical materials that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to issues of war, security and peace in the world today. This module thus provides a good grounding for understanding contemporary security challenges (such as the environmental degradation, conflict, gender-based insecurity, terrorism, mass surveillance and arms proliferation among others) and our responses to them. It will engage with debates around the 'broadening' and ‘deepening’ agenda of security studies, which has extended the scope of security studies beyond the nation-state, and the role of new security actors.

Find out more about POLI9160

The purpose of the module is to develop an understanding of the complex relationships between terrorism, counter-terrorism efforts, and human rights, both at home and abroad. Central to the module is the role of the state in responding to terrorism, in attempting to prevent terrorism, and in itself using and sponsoring terrorism. In this regard students are encouraged to re-evaluate assumptions about the state and its place in domestic and international politics, focusing particularly on crimes by the state. Students will be introduced to competing approaches to the study of terrorism, many of which are grounded in wider theories and approaches common to International

Relations and Security Studies. One of the challenges of the module is to think critically about the implications and consequences of those various approaches. The module will begin by looking at the various methodological, theoretical, and definitional challenges associated with the study of terrorism. Building on this grounding, students will then begin analysing terrorism, counter-terrorism and the role of the state through a number of case studies drawn from the 20th and early 21st Centuries. They will be encouraged to relate each of the case studies to the broader methodological and theoretical debates explored in the first few weeks of the module.

Find out more about POLI9170

The module draws from comparative politics, international relations, and political thought to analyse the past, present, and future of the democratic national state, the dominant form of political system in today's world. It addresses questions such as: Why are some states federal and others unitary? What explains the resilience of nationalism? Does economic integration leads to political disintegration? Why has regional integration gone much further in Europe than elsewhere? Is multi-national democracy possible? The module first charts the emergence of the modern state and its transformation into a national and democratic form of political system. Subsequently, it explores some key aspects of the formation, structuring, restructuring, and termination of states such as the unitary/federal dichotomy, processes of devolution, the challenge of secession, the question of the connections between the economic environment and the number and size of states, the phenomenon of supra-state regional integration, and the connections between nationality and democracy. It concludes by assessing the challenges facing the democratic national state in the 21st century and their likely trajectory in the foreseeable future.

Find out more about POLI9510

This module complements the core programme module ('Political Psychology') by providing students with a detailed introduction to the nature and study of public opinion. Opinion and attitudes are central to the choices that citizens make and to the way they behave, which in turn are core outcomes in politics. Yet the nature and formation of those attitudes are complex, and shaped by a range of individual and contextual factors, which are central subjects within psychology. This module therefore brings together perspectives from both political science and psychology, in helping students to understand how citizens form attitudes and opinions, the processes and considerations that underpin attitude formation, the factors and actors that influence these formative processes and the effect that citizens’ attitudes have on their behaviour. The module will also consider the principal ways in which we identify and measure public opinion, notably through surveys. Underpinning the module will be the central question of whether the nature of citizens’ opinions are consistent with the assumptions and demands of modern democratic states.

Find out more about POLI9560

This module explores topics and themes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African politics, with a particular focus on conflict and peacebuilding. We will look at colonial legacies, processes of state formation, and the nature and dynamics of political development at the national and local levels. We will also critically reflect on theories and concepts developed in the fields of comparative politics, peace and conflict research, and international relations and apply them to the study of Africa. In this module, we aim at offering solid foundations to the understanding of politics and conflict in Africa, which include colonial legacies, societal characteristics and economic challenges that shape the politics of sub-Saharan African states until today.

Find out more about POLI9610

Compulsory modules currently include

This module builds on and applies the skills and learning outcomes attained in Stage 1 of all PGT courses, and in particular Research Methods 1 & 2. It does so through the assessment of individual MA thesis projects, including via oral presentation and a final thesis document. This dissertation forms a major assessed element of the Masters course and is on a topic that falls within the scope of your MA. The overall goal is to help you move through the components of the dissertation, including the actual research as well as presenting and writing up your findings.

Find out more about POLI9650

Teaching

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide a programme that will attract, and meet the needs of both  those seeking to prepare for careers in fields concerned with international conflicts and those with a general intellectual interest in international conflict analysis
  • provide you with a research-active teaching environment which gives you a good grounding in the study of study of international conflict and war, co-operation and peace
  • examine how state, non-state and supra-national actors behave and interact in conflict situations
  • ensure that you acquire a solid knowledge of the theories of the causes and dynamics of different kinds of conflict and the means to overcome them
  • ensure that students who specialise in regional conflicts acquire an advanced understanding of the historical, cultural, social and institutional context of the area to be studied
  • prepare students for various careers in jobs related to international conflict analysis as well as for career changes in the spirit of lifelong learning
  • develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills).

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • key historical and theoretical issues in international conflict and the study of war and peace, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
  • how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific conflicts
  • the nature and distribution of power in the international systems, problems of political order and the social, economic, historical and cultural context within which actors operate
  • the different kinds of actors on the international scene, their respective interests and influence in conflict situations
  • key theoretical problems of war and peace
  • current political challenges to international peace and security and possible strategies to address them
  • the changing role of the state in the context of globalisation and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security
  • how to design and conduct a research project demonstrating awareness of epistemological and methodological principles
  • how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
  • gathering, organising and deploying evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
  • identifying, investigating, analysing, formulating and advocating solutions to problems
  • developing reasoned arguments, synthesising relevant information and exercising critical judgement
  • reflecting on, and managing, your own learning and seeking to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
  • managing your own learning self-critically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • understanding the nature and significance of conflict as a human condition
  • applying concepts, theories and methods used in the study of conflict to the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions and practices
  • the ability to critically evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events
  • the ability to collect, analyse and present information about conflict and political events
  • an awareness of the main epistemological issues relevant to research in the social sciences, including the major theoretical and epistemological debates in the social sciences as they bear on international conflict analysis.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases
  • working with others: define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
  • improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
  • important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
  • problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.

Fees

January entry

The annual tuition fees for students starting this course in January 2023 can be found on the Student Finance page.


The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

International Conflict Analysis - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £6400
  • EU full-time £9000
  • International full-time £12000
  • Home part-time £3200
  • EU part-time £4500
  • International part-time £6000

International Conflict Analysis - Taught MA at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £9500
  • EU full-time £13500
  • International full-time £18000
  • Home part-time £4750
  • EU part-time £6750
  • International part-time £9000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs associated with this course. All textbooks are available from the library, although some students prefer to purchase their own.

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Politics and International Studies research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for environment and publications.

Research

Research areas

Our research interests span a broad spectrum of the discipline, with particular strengths in the fields of conflict analysis and resolution, political theory and European politics. The strength of the School’s research culture is reflected in the numerous books and articles published and in the existence of its three University-recognised research centres: the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC), the Global Europe Centre (GEC) and the Centre for Critical Thought (CCT).

In 2011, the University successfully applied for ESRC recognition as a provider of doctoral training in political science and international studies (and other areas of the social sciences) as part of a consortium. As a result, we are now part of the South East ESRC Doctoral Training Centre, making us one of the key training outlets in our subject in the UK. Further details can be found on the South East DTC website.

Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC)

Kent has been at the forefront of conflict negotiation and resolution for almost 50 years. The Conflict Analysis Research Centre brings together academics working on different aspects of conflict and security as well as PhD and Master’s students studying International Conflict Analysis, International Law and International Relations. Current research includes an investigation into how migrant communities can support peacebuilding in their home society and how South Africa and the UK treat refugees and security. The Centre is also at the forefront of trying to resolve actual conflicts – for example, it played a role in the Moldova-Transnistria peace process and has supported reconciliation efforts in Africa.

Global Europe Centre (GEC)

The Global Europe Centre is a pioneering research-led learning centre focusing on the study of Europe and its relations with the outside world. The GEC’s research focus is on contemporary policy challenges to Europe and its nation states, the engagement with policy-makers and policy-shapers is at the core of its activities. The GEC mission is to promote excellence, through innovative research and knowledge exchange and to facilitate research-driven impact through its learning and teaching activities. The GEC’s activities include dissemination of policy-relevant research via publications, research-led knowledge transfer workshops, conferences and public lectures, and keynote addresses by leading public figures. The Centre has a strong commitment to the creation of the next generation of ideas innovators and policymakers and pursues these through its learning, teaching and knowledge exchange activities and via the Global Europe Student Forum. GEC is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming to develop synergies across Politics and International Relations, Economics, Law, Business, History, and European Languages and Culture.

Centre for Critical Thought (CCT)

The Centre for Critical Thought is an exciting multidisciplinary initiative across both the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculties, co-ordinated by staff in Politics and International Relations, Law and Italian Studies. It enables staff and students interested in cutting-edge critical thought to discuss their work together and to explore the insights of interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, it serves as a forum for distinguished lectures, seminars and an annual workshop. The Annual Kent Lecture in Political and Social Thought is the headline lecture series and recent speakers have included Professor Bernard Stiegler, Professor Chantal Mouffe and Professor William Outhwaite. All students interested in contemporary critical thought are encouraged to become members while at Kent.

Careers

The School of Politics and International Relations has a dedicated Employability Coordinator who organises employability events within the School as well as providing students with assistance in securing graduate opportunities. Centrally, the Careers and Employability Service can help you plan for your future by providing one-to-one advice at any stage of your postgraduate studies.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students have access to an excellent library and extensive computing facilities. You also have access to online resources; inter-library loans; video library; online book renewals and reservations; laptop and netbook loan facilities; more than 1,300 study spaces/seats; more than 27,500 books and 10,500 bound periodicals catalogued under politics and international relations and related class marks plus British Government Publications and 50,000 online journals also available off-campus.

The School’s resources include a European Documentation Centre, with all official publications of the EU institutions, and a specialised collection on international conflict and federal studies as well as the University’s collection of political cartoons. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with 12 computer terminals.

Dynamic research culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: Contemporary Political Theory; International Political Sociology; Journal of Human Rights; New Political Economy; Political Studies; Telos. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests section.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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