The MA in Peace and Conflict Studies is an exciting international and interdisciplinary two-year programme focusing on violent conflict as well as its prevention and management. It is a unique programme which is jointly offered by the University of Kent and the Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany and is taught in English.
You gain advanced knowledge in peace and conflict research, designed to help you understand the causes of violent conflict and to explain its effects and dynamics. As befits the complexity of violent conflict, the programme is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on insights from politics and international relations, sociology and psychology. It examines the major theories and leading practices of conflict and conflict resolution, supplementing theory with detailed case studies. Topics typically covered within the programme include risk analysis, negotiation, mediation, conference diplomacy, twin-track diplomacy, third-party intervention, peace-keeping, peace-making, and coercive diplomacy.
The programme draws on the large pool of expertise in the field of conflict analysis at Kent and Marburg, concentrated in the Centre for Conflict Studies at Marburg and the Conflict Analysis Research Centre at Kent, both leading research centres in the field.
You develop your high-end analytical skills, along with more practical capabilities in areas such as mediation. Valuable skills are gained from dedicated research exercises such as conflict simulations, while you learn additional practical skills from an internship that is usually undertaken between the first and second years of study. Overall, the programme provides you with an outstanding basis from which to pursue a variety of careers, including in government, international organisations, NGOs, media, business, and consultancy and research.
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.
The School has grown significantly in the last few years and now has over 30 academic staff based at two locations, in Canterbury and Brussels. The School is cosmopolitan, with staff originating from eight different countries, and well over half of all postgraduate students come from outside the UK.
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.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of current tuition fees.
Please note that this programme does not qualify for the UK Government postgraduate loans as more than 50% of the programme is studied in another country.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Duration: 2 years full-time
This programme offers the opportunity to study at the University of Marburg. You will start the programme in Canterbury at the University of Kent and spend the second year in Marburg where courses will be taught in English. Due to the joint institutional nature of this programme its term dates are non-standard, the term dates are outlined in more detail below.
After completion of the spring term at Kent, you undertake an eight to twelve-week internship during the vacation period from April until early October.
Please note that some spring term assessment deadlines may fall in the first week of Kent's summer term.
You complete the spring term at Kent, where you study two compulsory modules and then choose three optional modules from those listed in the section below, taught by the University of Kent.
You take three compulsory modules plus the dissertation and then choose two optional modules from those taught at the Centre.
Compusory modules at Marburg include:
Optional modules at Marburg include:
At least three of these courses will be offered in English
You study three compulsory modules and then choose three optional modules from those listed in the section below, taught by the University of Kent.
Students of politics 'have not been, in general, sufficiently reflective about the nature and scope of their discipline. They just do it rather than talk about it''(G.Stoker). Given that political scientists study people – individuals, groups, states, nations, cultures – rather than ‘things’, PO825 moves from the assumption that politics students ought to be reflective about their research. The module aims to provide an opportunity for reflection by presenting some of the key theoretical and methodological debates in politics and international relations. These debates deal with issues such as: the concept of ‘the political’ and the concept of power; the relationship between structure and agency; the causal and constitutive role of ideas and discourse; positivism and post-positivism; critical theory, emancipation, and the importance of normative questions; an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research, and to research design and research ethics. The module is designed as early preparation for the MA dissertation module and will encourage students to think about the philosophical underpinnings of particular research methods, the relationship between methodology and conceptual analysis, and the appropriate ways to incorporate these into research design.
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.
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.
The course provides an overview and framework for considering the evolving field of international conflict resolution with an emphasis on negotiation and mediation. The module will focus primarily on the practical as well as on the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, or more broadly third party intervention in conflicts. Its aims are to give the students an overview of the main problems involved in negotiation and mediation (broadly defined), but also to give them a chance to work individually and in groups on case studies and material related to the resolution of conflicts. The course is designed to introduce the students to theories of negotiation and bargaining, discuss the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem solving real cases of international conflict, and allow them to make use of such techniques in role playing and simulations.
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 facing (the prospect of) violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of reconciliation, power-sharing and human rights.
This module focuses on the position of the EU - what it does and how it does it - in the world, through its relations with other regional/global actors. We will first conceptualise the EU as an 'actor' through the governance lens, to understand its nature as economic, normative and security power. We will then examine EU actorness with reference to its interactions with regional and global actors – e.g. the neighbourhood, US, Russia, China and the developing world. The objective is to compare EU rhetoric and practice, to draw conclusions about the potency of the EU as a global actor.
This course is designed for graduate students in Political Science and will serve as an introduction to quantitative methods for social science research. Given that a great deal of the research in Political Science is conducted in the language of quantitative methodology, students will learn the use of quantitative research methods as a tool to further their research and participation in social scientific debates. Students can further expect to be introduced to not only the means for conducting rigorous, empirical, and quantitative research in social science fields but also how this methodology adheres to the scientific accumulation of knowledge about these phenomena. The course is intended to develop core competencies in quantitative research. These competencies include methodological literacy (the ability to read, understand, and critically assess quantitative research); statistical abilities (the ability to determine, apply, and use the appropriate statistical techniques to inform and/or support an argument as well as understand the limitations of statistical techniques); and research skills (the ability to use and present quantitative methodology to address a research question).
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.
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.
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.
This module focuses on contemporary security issues in the context of the changing global political environment and the evolving discipline of International Relations (IR). We examine a range of theoretical contestations and empirical issues that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to war, security, and order in the world today. The module provides a solid grounding for understanding contemporary and forecasted security challenges and how to 'manage' security within institutions, regimes, and in regional contexts. The module engages with debates thematically and empirically, combining traditional notions of security and insecurity with the 'broadening' and 'deepening' agenda of Security Studies. In this way, the module provides tools for students to address a wide array of security actors and dynamics.
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.
This module will look at how ideas of resistance are translated into political action. What are the modalities, costs and consequences of this process? We will look at specific instances of resistance to political authority and examine the techniques of resistance employed, the assumptions that underpin these techniques, and the tensions and problems that arise as ideas are actualised in political reality. Studying historical examples of resistance will help us reflect on the complex relationship between theory and practice in political reality.
As part of the Resistance in Practice module, students can choose between submitting an academic essay on a historical instance of resistance and performing a practice of resistance. We envision that such practices of resistance could involve poetry, theatre, painting, sculpture, video, film, photography, music, and other forms of artistic expression. The practice must be a documented practice, which means that students must submit not just the performance but also a portfolio in which they reflect on what they did and why. Early in the module, students interested in submitting a documented practice for assessment discuss their ideas with the module convenor, and they will continue to work on their projects with the help of a supervisor.
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.
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.
This module is an advancement of the Research Methods Training I that you took in your first term at Kent, and narrows down the research methods to an application in your particular MA dissertation project. The dissertation forms a major assessed element of the Masters programme and is on a topic that falls within the scope of your MA programme. 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.
Some sessions will look like regular lectures, whereas others will be interactive workshops involving yourself, your seminar leader, and your classmates. The last three seminars (weeks 10 through 12) will be run as individual 15- 20 minute drop-in sessions with the module convenor.
Supervision of work on the dissertation is concentrated in the second half of the academic year (spring-summer).
This module is used for the School's MA year abroad marks, where applicable.
Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
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You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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 email@example.com.
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.
Please note that whilst there are no tuition fees for the University of Marburg portion of the programme there is an approx. €1,000 administrative fee payable directly to the University of Marburg (which is paid in installments over the two year programme).
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.
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In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Politics and International Relations was ranked 15th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact.
An impressive 96% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
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 core research groups: Conflict, Security and Human Rights; Comparative Politics; and Political and Social Thought. We also host three University-recognised research centres: the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC), the Global Europe Centre (GEC). and the Centre for Critical Thought (CCT).
All members of staff can supervise theses leading to research degrees. We encourage potential research students to refer to our postgraduate research handbook (pdf) for detailed information.
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.
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.
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.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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.
Politics at Kent was ranked 6th in the UK for graduate prospects in The Guardian University Guide 2017. Our graduates have gone on to careers in academia, local and national government and public relations.
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.
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: 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.
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.
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