War and Conflict

International Conflict and Security - MA

2018

The International Conflict and Security MA at the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is structured to introduce you to the key concepts and theories necessary to understand the features of contemporary international conflict and security issues.

2018

Overview

At the same time, it gives the opportunity, through practical and case study-driven modules, to learn about conflict prevention and early warning, as well as the appropriate ways of managing conflicts peacefully through negotiation and mediation.

The programme also provides you with training specific to working in the field of conflict analysis, such as preparing reports on specific conflicts or security issues, drafting recommendations for policymakers, or mediating between conflicting parties. The programme is constantly updated to introduce fresh insights from the theory of conflict and innovative policy strategies as developed in the field by practitioners and academics alike.

An ideal subject for those who may have previously worked in conflict zones, or have an interest in how the theories of international relations cuts across the study of conflict, conflict resolution and security issues. Alongside your studies, you will have access to many additional external lectures, conferences and seminars, or via an internship with an organisation such as NATO. The teaching is delivered by academics and enhanced by practitioners - experts in their field combining theory with contemporary case studies bringing the latest global conflicts to the classroom. 

Flexible study

We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

For more information on study options, see the course structure tab.

About the Brussels School of International Studies

The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate centre offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialise in one programme while informing their personal approach to international studies with another, via a secondary specialisation.

The broad selection of taught and research programmes available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and the University is also recognised by the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK university with a campus in Brussels.

BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organisations.

Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous organisations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a top 20 British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

We are committed to offering flexible study options at the School and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs by offering start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study; split-site options, and allowing students to combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

Standard and extended versions 

The MA is offered in both a standard version (90 ECTS credits) and an extended version (120 ECTS credits) and in each case students may take the programme with or without a secondary specialisation. Those on the extended version take more modules to gain extra credit.

To be awarded the standard MA (90 ECTS), you must take three modules from the list for International Conflict and Security and a further three modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS. For the extended MA (120 ECTS), you must take four modules from the list for International Conflict and Security and a further five modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

Modules

Modules for International Conflict and Security 

The following modules are offered to our current students on the MA International Conflict and Security programme. At BSIS, you have a wide range of optional modules to choose from and this can be within your chosen degree, or as part of a secondary specialisation (for more information on specialisations, please see below.) This list of modules is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation:

PO933 - Theories of Conflict and Violence*

PO934 - Conflict and Security*

LW861 - Law of Armed Conflict

PO848 - Negotiation and Mediation

PO925 - Histories of International Conflict

PO930 - Critical Approaches to Security

Modules marked with * are compulsory.

Students may not be registered on more than 3 modules per term (full-time) or 1 or 2 modules (part-time) and each module will run in either Autumn or Spring. 

On this programme you may not take more than three law modules (standard) or four law modules (extended).

Specialisations

The MA in International Conflict and Security allows you to choose secondary areas of specialisation from the range of programmes offered at BSIS. This leads to the award of an MA degree in, for example, 'International Conflict and Security with Human Rights Law'.

To include a secondary area of focus on the standard programme, you must choose three modules from the list for MA International Conflict and Security, two modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and one module from the full list of modules offered at BSIS

For the extended programme, you must choose four modules from the list for MA International Conflict and Security, three modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and two modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

On both the standard and extended programme, you must also submit a dissertation on a topic in International Conflict and Security and complete the methodology module Fundamentals, Dissertation and Research.

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 contemporary security issues
  • 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, security 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 contemporary conflict and security threats and the means to manage 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 security issues, as well as for career changes in the spirit of lifelong learning
  • develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills) in particular through a substantial dissertation.

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 and security issues
  • 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 and security-related issues
  • key theoretical problems of war, peace and security
  • 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
  • the ability to critically apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of conflict and security 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.

Careers

The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate centre offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialise in one programme while informing their personal approach to international studies with another, via a secondary specialisation.

The broad selection of taught and research programmes available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and the university is also recognised as by the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK University with a campus in Brussels.

BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organisations.

Students also have access to the services of Key2advance, a dedicated careers service that provides students with assistance in developing skills and accessing the international job market. The weekly career workshops cover all aspects of the job market starting with rewriting your CV and cover letters to learning networking skills. This leads to a networking event during the Autumn Term that allows students to meet and network with employers and alumni.

Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous organisations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a top 20 British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.

Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: of Kent graduate students who graduated in 2016, 98% of those who responded to a national survey were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students have access to excellent e-library facilities online via the Templeman library in Canterbury; inter-library loans within Belgium; 50,000 online journals are also available off-campus. Students also have outstanding access to libraries in Brussels, such as at our partner universities Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Royal Library of Belgium, among others. The School’s resources include a dedicated selection of more than 1,000 key texbooks on the subject of international affairs and law. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with computer terminals and access to wi-fi in all areas at the Brussels centre.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. The Brussels School produces its own journal, The Brussels Journal of International Studies, which was founded in 2003. 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.  

Entry requirements

Students should hold a bachelor degree for entry to this Master's degree.

We accept a wide range of subjects for entry and you do not need to have necessarily studied Political Science or law previously. Typical first degrees of our students include Economics, History, Classics, Languages, Philosophy, Geography & Psychology (among others).

The standard of the degree will normally be at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree from countries such as the UK, Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya, or a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 under the American system from an accredited institution or equivalent. We do review candidates application on a case by case basis and extensive work experience may compensate for a slightly lower degree result.

We accept a wide range of qualifications and you can find the general entry requirements for some countries on the University’s main website. If your country is not listed or you need further clarification, please contact the School directly at ukbapplications@kent.ac.uk.

Students can apply before completion of the bachelor degree and if successful in obtaining a place, you would be made a conditional offer. 

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will 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 for your country. 

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.

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 core research groups: Conflict, Security and Human Rights; Comparative Politics; and Political and Social Thought.

Critical Social Theory 

Political action spans from fixing glitches in the smooth functioning of the system to rendering the unthinkable thinkable. Our job is strictly the latter - to discern available opportunities for a less unjust world, and fashion arguments to make these changes politically thinkable and socially feasible. Drawing on various trajectories of critical theory (i.e. as originated by the Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, the Critical Legal Studies movement, and the British School of IPE), our cluster of scholars works on contemporary social phenomena while seeking to discern emancipatory perspectives of social criticism, citizen mobilisation and political reform. The thematic scope of our research extends from religion to capitalism, security and development policies. 

Fragmentation and Contestation in the International Law of Armed Conflict 

Research in International Law at the BSIS is clustered around questions that engage the performative significance of the International Law of Armed Conflict within a context of institutional and interpretative fragmentation. The focus of this research theme is accordingly on the overlap and contestation between various international law regimes – international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international human rights law – and how they come to interact with, influence and potentially govern situations of actual or emerging global conflict. Special attention is directed at the role of practice and how regimes of international law become used not only by states but also by non-state actors and international lawyers. In this way, the International Law of Armed Conflict is understood as a historic but no less dynamic project situated at the intersection of normative ideals and an evolving professional practice. 

Migration in Global Politics 

Migration is one of the most politicised topics in the world, but the study of migration is a multi-faceted, dynamic and interdisciplinary field engaging with a range of topics. How and why do diaspora members engage politically in their countries of origin? What integration strategies do stigmatised and vulnerable migrant groups develop? What is, for instance, the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim migrants? How do states react to, and shape, migrant integration? What patterns of citizenship acquisition and renunciation can we identify? Researchers in this cluster study not only movement – migration – but also integration and, closely linked to integration, citizenship. The research in this cluster focuses on: 

Political engagement of diasporas in their countries of origin; Identity formation of migrants and diasporas, both with respect to countries of origin and destination; Migrant integration in countries of destination; Migration as a survival strategy. 

Political Violence, Security Governance and Development 

This cluster focuses on social and political dynamics leading to war and peace, and, crucially, what is in between. It studies insurgency formation, states’ security governance policies, temporary rebel orders, peace processes as well as foreign intervention in its many guises, violent and non-violent. We also pay close attention to how securitisation agendas are articulated for more classic development interventions in the Global South. Our research covers various geographical areas such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Sahel region and Madagascar. 

Russia, the EU and the neighbourhood 

The end of the Cold War has resulted in the eastward extension of Euro-Atlantic structures, mainly the European Union and NATO. Yet, it has left fundamental questions unresolved, in particular the position of Russia in Europe and the position of former Soviet states in between. Despite attempts to establish a Strategic Partnership, relations between the EU and Russia got entangled in a logic of competition and mistrust. With the crisis over Ukraine they derailed into confrontation and deep crisis.  This research theme seeks to understand the dynamics of this process by taking a critical look at the foreign policies of the EU and Russia, their interaction and the role of the neighbouring states themselves. It explores the nature of different integration initiatives and the role of perceptions. More specifically the research focus is on these aspects: EU-Russia relations Russian foreign policy EU foreign policy European Neighbourhood Policy / Eastern Partnership EU enlargement Eurasian Economic Union Energy relations Power and identity Democracy promotion and normative hegemony. 

Security, Identity, Memory 

What is the relationship between security and identity? How can historical grievances become the subject of contemporary foreign and security policies? Why do states and nations seek to defend their historical memory by means of law at times? How might the legal framing of public remembrance infringe upon freedom of speech and freedom of association? What are the ethical pitfalls of countering contemporary hybrid threats? This research cluster is situated at the intersection of various distinct research fields: International (and Global) Security, International Relations Theory, Critical Social Theory, Transitional Justice and Memory Studies. More specifically, the research focus is on these aspects: Ontological security (security of being) Memory wars and memory laws in Europe     Legitimacy and radical critique of contemporary security policies Critical geopolitics EU and NATO security governance 

Social Justice and the Reconfiguration of Capitalism in the European Union 

As societies are becoming ever more tightly entangled in the network of globally integrated markets, issues of justice not only emerge with renewed urgency: they change, reflecting the changing nature of capitalism. Our research charts the dynamics of this change by relating narratives of European integration to new modalities of post-neoliberal capitalism, and the plethora of social afflictions and policy paradoxes these have engendered. We also chart the matrix of effective governance in this context by articulating a ‘political economy of trust’ aiming to reconfigure state-economy relations so as to attenuate the increasing social uncertainty we hold to be at the root of social pathologies (such as growing inequalities and the rise of xenophobia).

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr M. Malksoo: Senior Lecturer in International Security (Brussles)

Main research interests: The intersection of security, memory and identity politics, and critical IR theory. Previous research has covered social theoretic perspectives of the EU and NATO’s eastern enlargements, liminality in IR, and the conflicts over historical memory between Russia and its former Soviet/East European dependants. Current research focuses on (i) the nexus between transitional justice and foreign policies on the example of post-communist Russia and (ii) NATO’s ‘back to the roots’-policy in re-strengthening its collective defence arm and its eastern flank.

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Dr Yvan Guichaoua: Lecturer in international Conflict Analysis (Brussels)

The dynamics of insurgency formation; rebel governance and state responses in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004.

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Dr Albena Azmanova: Reader in International Relations

Political traditions and democratisation; globalisation and political identities; European integration.

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Dr Tom Casier: Senior Lecturer in International Relations

EU as an international actor; EU-Russian relations; Russian foreign policy.

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Professor Richard G Whitman: Professor of Politics

European studies; international relations; international role of the European Union.

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Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels: Senior Lecturer in Migration and Politics

Dr. Klekowski von Koppenfels' current research interests focus on the concept of diaspora and transnational engagement of migrants, in particular with respect to Global North migrants, although she remains interested in the phenomena more broadly.

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Dr Bojan Savic: Lecturer in International Relations (Brussels)

Game theory; qualitative and quantitative research strategies in relation to conflict and development.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

International Conflict and Security 90 ECTS - MA at Brussels:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time €17960 €17960
Part-time €8980 €8980
International Conflict and Security 120 ECTS - MA at Brussels:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time €25560 €25560
Part-time €12780 €12780

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

General additional costs

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

Funding

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