Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research

Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research

ICTPR - Institute for Conflict, Transition and Peace Research

The Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research (ICTPR) at the University of Aberdeen brings together a diverse and interdisciplinary group of scholars and students to develop in-depth theoretical understandings of the concepts and practices of transitions in terms of conflict and peace.

By applying these insights to both the emergence and resolution of conflict, as well as the promotion or prevention of sustainable peace, the Institute provides a unique setting for learning and innovative research-based teaching for undergraduate and post-graduate students alike

Research Theme and Regions of Expertise

Research Themes

  • Critical Approaches to Violence
  • Ethnonationalism and Violently Divided Societies
  • Gender in Conflict and Peace
  • International and Human Rights Law
  • Radicalization, Deradicalization, and Resistance
  • Security and the Role of International Organizations
  • Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
  • Victims, Refugees, and Displacement

Regions of Expertise

  • Central Asia
  • East Africa
  • North Africa and the Middle East
  • Northern Ireland
  • Russia and the CIS
  • Spain and the Basque Country
  • West Africa
  • Western Balkans
About and Mission

Transitions from the politics of violence to democratic compromise are always messy’ --- Timothy Garton Ash

ICTPRTransitions between conflict and peace are complicated and open-ended processes, the consequences of which may be positive, negative or some unsettling mixture of the two. Such transitions are often conceived as linear, with transition occurring smoothly and predictably, but they are rarely so. Transitions are ongoing, emergent, and unpredictable. Such ongoing transitions, such as those related to climate change, natural resources availability, demographic change, and migration, have a direct and volatile impact on institutions, societies, cultures and individuals. Impacts that bear a dual potential, to either give rise to a great amount of future conflict or to lay the foundations for sustainable peace.

Social science-led research with a far-reaching and interdisciplinary focus is needed to study and understand such transitions as a site for conflict or peace. Such research can provide decision makers and the public with the knowledge to help plan for and deal with the ramifications of such transitions both in the present and the future. It is the mission of the Institute for Conflict, Transition and Peace Research (ICTPR), based at the University of Aberdeen, to provide this understanding.

The ICTPR therefore focuses not only on conflict and on peace, but on the dynamics of transition, the complex interconnections between varying kinds of transitions across societies and geographical spaces, and the potentially disruptive or peaceful effects of transition on individuals, civil institutions and the natural environment. Institute staff are engaged in developing in-depth theoretical and empirical understandings of the causes and consequences of transition to advance our knowledge of both the emergence and resolution of conflict and the conditions necessary for the promotion and maintenance of peace. By focusing on the problems faced by states, institutions and individuals as they cope with periods of transition and uncertainty, ICTPR is at the vanguard of research on the evolving issues of global change and its bearing on future security needs.


The ICTPR will work across disciplines and sectors in order to conduct theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded research into how states, global institutions, societies, and individuals navigate the dynamics of diverse transitions between conflict and peace.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, from the Social Sciences to the Arts and Humanities, and from Business and Economics to the Physical and Medical Sciences are all deeply involved in the quest to understand the nature of transition, in all its varied and complex forms. As such, the rich diversity of conceptual, methodological and empirical approaches available across the University will be utilised to good effect by the ICTPR. Moreover, the University’s established national and international links with academics, policy makers and practitioners will enable the Institute to actively contribute to academic and policy debates regarding the complex and multifaceted nature and implications of transitions and their relationship to conflict resolution, social justice, sustainability and peace.


The ICTPR is located within the School of Social Sciences at the University of Aberdeen.

School of Social Sciences
Edward Wright Building
Aberdeen AB24 3QY
Scotland, United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)1224-272726
Fax: +44 (0)1224-272552

Undergraduate Teaching

Fourth Year Course

Between Conflict and Peace: Transitions in Society and Politics

This course utilizes a range of disciplinary and theoretical approaches to analyse the concept of ‘transition’ as a fundamental condition of world history. It examines this through two related processes: the transition from conflict to peace and from peace to conflict at both a macro and micro level.

Topics include the transition of states through revolutionary violence or peaceful means, and how individuals are radicalized into terrorist groups or become involved in non-violent movements.

In addition, the course will investigate transitions in global institutions, norms and technology that generate local and individual changes.

For further information please contact Dr. Luisa Gandolfo:

Postgraduate Studies

The Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research is committed to research-led teaching and postgraduate training. Core Institute staff offer eight taught postgraduate programmes for future professionals in the fields of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, transitional justice, and conflict management practice, as well as to prepare promising scholars for PhD research. 

In addition, Institute staff supervise and work alongside a number of PhD students conducting independent research into the key themes of the Institute. Given the broad and interdisciplinary nature of the Institute, the research carried out by PhD students is varied and students are encouraged to undertake imaginative and innovative projects.


These degrees work both as stand-alone programmes for students wishing to enhance their knowledge of these areas to an advanced level, as well as providing the necessary foundations for students wishing to pursue a PhD in the social sciences. To apply to any of the below programs please visit:

MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies

Coordinator: Dr. Gearoid Millar

The MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies familiarises students with the dynamics of well-developed approaches to conflict resolution (or “peace-making”) and the more recent mechanisms of post-conflict peacebuilding which have developed over the past twenty years.

It also addresses and examines the intersection and overlap between peace-making and peacebuilding theory and processes. As such, it subjects the processes of peace-making and peacebuilding to critical reflection by considering the limits to and challenges of administering mechanisms for peace, justice and development within conflict-affected societies, and the ongoing challenges for both of local ownership, evaluation, and sustainability.

For further information please contact:

MSc in Policy Evaluation

Coordinator: Dr. Gearoid Millar

Institutions and organizations are today commonly demanding evidence-based policy formation. As a result, the necessary social research methods for Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) are in high demand.

The MSc in Monitoring and Evaluation for Policy Impact will equip graduates to provide programme monitoring and evaluation for government and third sector organisations by providing advanced skills in research design, qualitative and quantitative methods and data analysis.

For the thesis component, instead of completing a traditional dissertation, students will have the option to work with a partner organization to produce a real M&E project with local government, a non-profit organisation, or within the University itself.

For further information please contact:

PhD Research

PhD students at the Institute for Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research benefit from the expertise of both core and affiliated staff with interdisciplinary knowledge, multi-methodological training and varied regional and topical expertise.

PhD students currently supervised by Institute staff study a variety of topics, from women's participation in peacebuilding in North East India to the role of social movements in Thailand, and from the meaning of security in Israeli-Palestinian relations to the involvement of external actors in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

In addition, there are sources of potential funding for PhD studies. For further information please visit;


Core Staff        

Dr. Mervyn Bain
Professor of Politics and International Relations

Mervyn Bain was appointed as a Teaching Fellow in June 2004 and in June 2005 he was appointed as a Lecturer. He obtained his undergraduate, Masters and PhD degrees all from the University of Glasgow. His research interests include international diplomatic relations, particularly in relation to Cuba and Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia.

Dr. Lynn Bennie
Reader in Politics

Dr. Lynn Bennie is a political scientist who specializes in British and Scottish politics. A leading scholar on party membership and nationalist movements, she has undertaken a range of studies on party membership in Scotland, such as a detailed investigation of both the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens. The results of these studies have been presented to political elites at various party conferences and also widely reported in the press.

Dr. Stuart Durkin
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Dr. Stuart Durkin is a political scientist who has extensive expertise in evaluating social policy in the area of education on behalf of the UK Government (DWP). He has worked in close collaboration with numerous NGOs as well as the Spanish government on Human Rights and Peace Education, particularly as it relates to the Basque country in Spain.

Dr. Luisa Gandolfo
Lecturer in Sociology

Dr. Luisa Gandolfo is a scholar of Arab and Islamic Studies with specialized expertise in the Middle East and North Africa. Her main areas of expertise are refugee studies, education, and humanitarian assistance. For example, in close collaboration and consultation with the Jordanian government and humanitarian workers, Dr. Gandolfo has undertaken a detailed investigation of the educational needs and rights of refugees on the Jordanian border with Syria.

Professor Bernadette C. Hayes
Professor of Sociology

Professor Bernadette C. Hayes is a sociologist who specializes in societies emerging from conflict. An expert on Northern Ireland, her main areas of expertise include victim's issues, religious and ethnonational identity, gender, as well as the role of socio-political institutions, such as the educational system, in ameliorating or exacerbating conflict. Professor Hayes' research in this area has been widely quoted in both the British and Irish press and formed the basis for an early day motion in the House of Commons.

Dr. Joanne McEvoy
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Dr. Joanne McEvoy is a political scientist who specializes in ethnic conflict and peace processes. A particular focus of her research is the role of external actors in peacebuilding. For example, Dr. McEvoy has undertaken a series of studies on the role of international bodies, such as the European Union (EU), on conflict mitigation and peacebuliding in both Northern Ireland as well as the Balkans and she has advised the United Nations (UN) as well as a range of political elites and global policy advisors on this issue.

Dr. Gearoid Millar
Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Dr. Gearoid Millar is a social scientist who specializes in international conflict and peace, transitional justice, and processes of peacebuilding. An expert on Sierra Leone, he is primarily interested in the local experiences of international projects of peacebuilding and transitional justice in post-conflict settings. In 2008/2009, for example, Dr. Millar conducted an evaluation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for Sierra Leone. His current research evaluates the impact of a 40,000 acre bioenergy project on the local inhabitants in rural Sierra Leone.

Dr. Martin Mills
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology

Dr. Martin Mills is an anthropologist who specializes in the study of Tibetan communities, in particular its religious and governmental institutions. Over the last twenty years, he has carried out fieldwork in Tibet, Ladakh, China, Northern India, and Scotland. Dr. Mills' most recent work, commissioned by the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Tibet, focuses on Tibetan modes of protest.

Professor Michael Smith
Professor of International Relations

Professor Michael E. Smith joined the University of Aberdeen in 2010. Most of his theoretical work involves international cooperation and global governance in difficult issue-areas, particularly security and technology. He pays special attention to the advanced industrialized democracies, particularly the US and Europe, and attempts to combine international-level theories of institution-building with domestic-level theories of state/societal politics to explain how states manage (or fail to manage) their contemporary collective action problems.

Dr. Andrea Teti
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Dr. Teti’s primary area of research is the politics of democracy in the Middle East – particularly EU democracy-promotion programmes in the 'Mediterranean Neighbourhood' – and in democratization theory. He is interested in labour movements and civil society in Egypt, as well as political parties and elections. Dr. Teti also works on how knowledge is produced, translated into policy, and applied. This is the core focus of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence cluster, of which he is co-director.

Dr. Ritu Vij
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Ritu Vij completed a doctorate in International Studies from the University of Denver (USA), and came to the University of Aberdeen in 2006 after post-doctoral research in Japan. Her principal areas of interest are in political economy and social theory with a substantive focus on contemporary Asia. Dr. Vij’s current research focus, developing earlier work on civil society, migrants, and welfare, is on the politics and aesthetics of labour in the context of South and East Asia.

Professor Claire Wallace
Professor of Sociology

Professor Claire Wallace is a sociologist who specializes in the comparative study of quality of life issues. An expert on Europe, she has undertaken a number of studies on the impact of transition on the well-being of citizens in the former Soviet Union. This research has resulted in numerous consultative and advisory positions with a range of international bodies as well as the European Commission.