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INCORE: Courses: PGDip/MSc in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies

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Now Accepting Applications for 2017/2018

The Programme

This internationally renowned programme based on the Jordanstown campus, just outside Belfast city, is offered by leading academics from the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), at Ulster University.  

The emphasis of the INCORE programme  is consistent with the new vision of the University to be a leading provider of professional education for professional life.  There is a strong focus on post-violence peacebuilding, which is appropriate given that the programme is rooted in a society emerging from decades of protracted violence.  However, the geographical scope of  INCORE’s work in research, policy, and practice is both local and global.Picture og John Hume andHilary Clinton

The programme stresses the development of skills relevant to graduates who want to go on to be practitioners, researchers and policymakers in the peace and conflict field. The overall approach seeks to develop the critical, theoretical and analytical skills necessary for working in conflicted societies – in ways that are grounded in real life application and case studies.

INCORE staff have been engaged in peacemaking and peacebuilding activities as both practitioners and researchers. This experience and expertise is a hallmark of the programme which is reflected in the classroom experience.   The location of the programme in Northern Ireland ensures that there is an open door between classroom learning and experiential learning.  Practitioners from Northern Ireland and abroad are important components of  the programme, as are site visits, e.g. to the Northern Ireland Assembly and to community groups working on peacebuilding issues..

Derry Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge spanning the river Foyle

The INCORE MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies offers the student a unique opportunity to undertake a graduate programme characterized by academic excellence within the context of a vibrant and culturally rich society emerging from conflict.

Students in the programme have access to leading academics and practitioners working both to address the causes and consequences of conflict locally and internationally, and to promote better peacemaking and peacebuilding strategies.  INCORE is honoured to host Honorary Professor of Peace Studies, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, John Hume. Professor Hume’s tenure has been notable for an array of high-profile Peace Lectures given on the Magee Campus by prominent global policymakers involved in peace and conflict issues. These include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, former EU Commission President Romano Prodi and the Irish President Mary McAleese.


Students of an interdisciplinary programme such as the MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies are well placed to follow a number of distinct career opportunities, based on their specific interests and core strengths.  The past decades have seen tremendous changes in the global context, with the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the rise in ethnic conflict, the global spread of radicalisation and the increasing demands for peaceful resolution of conflict and the reconstruction of affected regions and states. As a result, the demand for well-trained individuals to work on the myriad of peace and conflict issues continues to rise.  The knowledge and capacities developed by INCORE peace and conflict studies students are transferrable across sectors and regions, making their skill set mobile and flexible within a globalised job market.  

There are a range of career paths available to students undertaking the MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies. The course is designed to enhance the students’ employability within the applied field of peace and conflict studies, which can take a wide variety of forms, both locally and internationally.

Read more about:

Employment Options
Stories from our Graduate

Course Structure

All students enter the MSc programme at the Postgraduate Diploma stage.  This consists of the eight taught modules Upon successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma (i.e., the eight taught modules), students are eligible to enter the MSc stage, which is normally completed within  three to six months and which consists of a 15,000 word dissertation.

The formal teaching is supplemented by an informal programme of lectures, seminars and study visits, and students have access to a range of events organised by the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) and other associated institutes at Ulster University.


The year-long programme for full-time students is:

Semester One:

    • Foundations of Peace and Conflict Studies
    • Research Methods 1
    • Conflict Analysis
    • Psychosocial Approaches to Peace

Semester Two:

    • Peacebuilding in Divided Societies
    • Research Methods 2
    • Northern Ireland: issues in Peacebuilding
    • Dealing with the Past

Semester Three/Four: MSc Dissertation (individual supervision)

Module Content

Semester One

  • Foundations of Peace and Conflict Research
    This module introduces students to some of the key concepts, theories and debates within this field of study. 
  • Research Methods 1
    The module introduces students to the main stages in the research process, the main approaches and methods and will give students a firm foundation in the basics of social research that will prepare them for Research Methods 2.
  • Conflict Analysis
    This module introduces students to the main stages of the conflict cycle and to key intervention strategies used to resolve and transform violent conflict.  Topics covered will include the causes of violent conflict, the structure and dynamics of conflict, peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Peacebuilding
    This module develops the theoretical and practical understanding the role of psychosocial work in post-conflict societies and peacebuilding processes.

Semester Two

  • Peacebuilding in Divided Societies 
    This module provides students with a thorough grounding of the academic field of peacebuilding, and the different approaches and interventions employed within it. The focus is global.
  • Research Methods 2
    This module builds on Research Methods 1 and bring students to the point where they can understand the basic ethical and methodological issues involved in conducting research in divided societies.
  • Dealing with the past
    The module introduces the critical debate of dealing with the past and transitional justice in peace and conflict studies. It outlines and describes the differences between concepts such as “dealing with the past” and transitional justice, both globally and in terms of the Northern Ireland conflict.
  • Northern Ireland: Issues in Peacebuilding
    The aim of this module is to enable students to critically analyse the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland from a range of social, political, economic and psychological perspectives and to further understand the various dimensions required to build peace in a society emerging from conflict. By utilising the example of the Northern Ireland as a detailed and in-depth case study, students have the opportunity to explore the consequence of the conflict from a range of perspectives and to consider the variety of peacebuilding tasks which require attention following a peace accord.

Semester Three/Four

  • MSc Dissertation

This module will enable students to conduct and present research on a relevant and pressing topic in peace and conflict studies in ways that are informed by current research developing critical analytical research skills and theoretical knowledge.


Current faculty on the PgDip/MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies and their research interests:

Dr. Maire Braniff. Director of INCORE. Peace, justice and truth recovery. Conflicting narratives, relationships of power and victimhood. Comparative research. Memory and commemoration.

Prof. Brandon Hamber: John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace. Political transition, peacebuilding, reconciliation and conflict transformation, transitional justice and dealing with the past, memorialisation and reparations, psychosocial support for victims of violence and victim empowerment, trauma, its critiques and methodologies, ex-combatants and political transition, masculinity and transition.

Prof. Gillian Robinson:Professor of Social Research and Director of ARK. Research methodology, social attitudes, community relations.

Ms. Grainne Kelly: Lecturer and Course Director of MSc Applied Peace and Conflict Studies Programme. Reconciliation; Institutional development following conflict; Peace and Conflict-related Philanthropy; intercommunal division; Storytelling and testimony work as mechanism for dealing with the past.

Professor Emeritus Paul Arthur. Honorary Associate, INCORE. The Northern Ireland conflict, Track Two Diplomacy, dealing with the past.

Background and Achievements

The MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies started in 1987 on a part-time basis. The target cohort was opinion formers in Northern Ireland - educators, clergy, business, community activists - indeed anyone who might have a role in helping to control conflict.

Substantial overseas interest arose after the ceasefires in 1994. Initially this came from the US, Japan and Scandinavia. Since then, participants have enrolled from Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Rwanda and Nigeria, among others. Further information for international applicants can be found at: http://international.ulster.ac.uk/

The diversity of intake has been matched by quality: Rotary, Chevening (British Council) and Mitchell Scholars have all graduated from the MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies in recent years.

Click Map to enlarge

Many graduates have been involved in community activity in Ireland and the United Kingdom.Graduates have gone on to work for NGOs in Kosovo, the DRC (Congo) and Colombia. Others have gone on to complete PhDs and a number of these have entered academic life.


The John J Sweeney Scholarship at Ulster University’s International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) is now OPEN for applications. For more information click here.

For any queries, please contact Janet Farren – je.farren@ulster.ac.uk

How to Apply

For more information on the PgDip/MSc in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies and to answer any queries on enrolment, contact the Course Director, Ms Gráinne Kelly (g.kelly@ulster.ac.uk) or telephone on +44 (0)28 90366934.

For additional information on the PgDip/MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies and information on how to apply for the 2017/18 academic year, please click here.

To apply online, click the banner below or apply online.

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The Programme | Employment Opportunities | Success Stories | Scholarships | Online Prospectus | Apply

Disclaimer: © INCORE 2010 Last Updated on Thursday, 25-May-2017 10:57
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