Peace and Conflict Studies, MSc

Peace and Conflict Studies, MSc


MSc Peace and Conflict Studies is designed for students wishing to develop an advanced knowledge of the intellectual terrain of conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding

Study Information

Study Options

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January
Location of Study

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.

The degree works both as a stand-alone programme for students wishing to enhance their knowledge of this area to an advanced level in order to pursue a career in Peace and Conflict intervention practice, as well as providing the necessary bases for students wishing to pursue PhD and related studies in Peace and Conflict Studies, conflict resolution or peacebuilding in the social sciences.

Available Programmes of Study


Peace and Conflict Studies

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September More

Stage 1

Compulsory Courses

Advanced Qualitative Methods in Social Science (SL5011)

30 Credit Points

Qualitative Sociology: Philosophy and Methods: This course introduces students to a range of methods used in qualitative social science research (such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, diaries, photography and film, and archived data sources). The emphasis will be on the research process, from project design to analysis and presentation, with methodological issues raised in the context of researchable questions. Issues of reliability, representativeness and validity, and the potential for combining methods will be addressed. Students use the course work to develop their research interests and reflect on their research practices.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Optional Courses

Plus one of either:

Advanced Social Theory (SO5014)

30 Credit Points

Karl Popper argued, wisely, at least this time, that all languages are theory-laden. In other words, if we are doing social science, it is impossible not to do theory, but we have a choice to do it well or poorly, informed by the thinking of others who have gone before us, or in ignorance of it. In this course we learn to reflect explicitly about that which may otherwise simply remain implicit in empirical sociological examination. In this project, we are assisted by important thinkers who have developed distinctive and influential ways of considering the social. We begin with classical sociological theory before moving on to the work of more recent social thought, giving students an advanced working knowledge of the most important theoretical tools available to jobbing social scientists.

Policy Evaluation (SO5015)

30 Credit Points

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. This course in Policy Evaluation is the core course in the MSc in Policy Evaluation and will equip graduates with the knowledge necessary to understand the current demand for, existing practices of, and substantial challenges to monitoring and evaluation of policy, implementation procedures, and impacts. The course serves as the primary topical course for this MSc and provides student with the theoretical and conceptual understanding of policymaking and programme implementation necessary to put M&E practices in context, and to better understand the need for specific M&E skills and how they might be best utilized across an array of work environments.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Peace and Conflict Studies (SO5529)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with a review of some of the central concepts and processes central to conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. As such, the course is designed both to introduce the theoretical foundations of particular approaches to conflict resolution (or “peacemaking”) and peacebuilding, and to describe how those theoretical underpinnings give rise to specific mechanisms or processes within given contexts. In the area of peacemaking the course will cover topics such as negotiation, mediation, and intergroup dialogue processes, while in the area of peacebuilding the course will discuss more recent innovations such as Truth-Telling mechanisms, Criminal Tribunals, and both individual and collection reparations programmes. The course is particularly designed to inspire students to consider the complicated nature of both peacemaking and peacebuilding through a number of different case studies and perspectives.

Optional Courses

Plus 30 credit points from the following list:

Dimensions of Globalization (SO5512)

30 Credit Points

This interdisciplinary course focuses on substantive dimensions of globalization by considering recent changes occurring in the economic, political, social, and cultural realms of society. These themes are analysed by considering recent empirical studies, which seek to clarify our theoretical understanding of globalization through advanced social scientific research. The substantive themes covered include global capitalism, the global division of labour, global governance, the changing role of the nation state, transnational social change, and cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Interconnections between these aspects of globalization are highlighted.

The Comparative Study of European Societies (SO5515)

30 Credit Points

The core course will look at Europe as a society as well as by comparing different nations and regions within it. It will look not just at the European Union, but also countries that are also in the broadest sense “European” stretching to the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. It will address key contemporary issues such as citizenship and belonging, identities in a European context, work, family and the demographic challenge as well as work-life balance.

Sex, Gender, Violence: Critical Approaches (SO5519)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the ways people think about, understand, and respond to violence. How do we know what counts as violence or a violence act? Why does legislation against violence often seem inadequate, perhaps especially in the case of gendered and sexual violence?

Advanced Quantitative Methods in Social Science (SL5512)

30 Credit Points

All researchers need to understand quantitative research, not only those who carry it out themselves. Everyone comes across quantitative research in literature reviews and even in the press. In this course students will acquire an understanding of the most common quantitative methods they are likely to use or come across in published social science research. The module will encompass different types of quantitative study and address issues such as when quantitative methods are appropriate, how quantitative questions are formulated, research design, sampling (both online and offline), scale construction, reliability and validity and ethical practices in quantitative research and design.

Stage 3

Compulsory Courses

Dissertation in Peace and Conflict Studies (SO5919)

60 Credit Points

Students in this course conduct independent research supervised by the coordinator into the topic of Post-Conflict Justice and Peacebuilding. The end goal of the course is to complete the dissertation in a timely fashion and to develop skills in research design, methodology, analysis, critical thinking and writing at a professional level. While the exact research question or methodologies utilized for the project are decided in consultation with the supervisor and must be within the field of post-conflict justice and peacebuilding, they will reflect the interests of the individual student.

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Home / RUK £11,077
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January Aberdeen More

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Assessments include essays, reports, exercises and presentations. Courses are generally 100% continuous assessment.

Why Study Peace and Conflict Studies?

  • The MSc Peace and Conflict Studies is taught by internationally recognized and widely published experts in the field of conflict and peace from the Institute of Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research at the University of Aberdeen.
  • The MSc draws on the exceptional expertise in religion, political violence, conflict and peace, social movements, identity processes, and global and political sociology within Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen
  • The programme is taught within the context of a range of high-level programmes in related subjects such as International Relations, International Security and Sex, Gender and Violence by staff associated with the Institute of Conflict, Transition, and Peace Research. This allows you to gain a greater understanding of the subject from a broad range of teaching and research specialists at Aberdeen.
  • The Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen enjoys a reputation as one of the leading centres for the study of sociology in the UK, being recognised nationally and internationally for the outstanding quality of teaching and research.
  • In the most recent Research Excellence Framework review, the research quality of the Department of Sociology within The School of Social Sciences was judged as 'Excellent.'
  • Sociology at Aberdeen is also ranked 4th in Scotland by the Complete University Guide (2021) and 10th in the UK by the Guardian (2021).

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results, an applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals


This MSc programme develops detailed empirical knowledge and analytical skills for understanding the central concepts and processes involved in conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. Graduates of this programme can apply their skills and knowledge to several careers, including:

  • International diplomacy and civil service
  • International institutions, e.g. UN, European Union, African Union
  • Research centres and organisations
  • Charities, NGOs and non-profit organisations
  • International conflict resolution organisations
  • Think-tanks

Seek The Truth

The challenges of administering criminal tribunals, reconciliation and recovery are immense. Truth is one of the major parts of peace building

What our Alumni Say

Kayla Slagter

Kayla Slagter

Kayla Slagter

Graduated 2019

This programme attracts incredible students with a wide range of experience and expertise from countries all around the world. My classmates often led discussions from their own experience and so we were able to learn as much from each other as in the classroom. Following my studies, I interned with Concordis International, a peacebuilding organisation based in London, where I gained much more practical experience in programme management and communications.

Our Experts

Professor Gearoid Millar

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


Centre for European Survey Research

The ECSR has Associate Survey Agencies in more than 100 countries worldwide and can offer basic and applied research in form of quantitative and qualitative surveys as well as other empirical research tools in the social and economic sciences.

New Europe Centre

The New Europe Centre represents a group of researchers at the University of Aberdeen with projects from a number of different funding sources. We are committed to doing quality research in order to better understand the world around us.

Centre for Global Security and Governance

The Centre for Global Security and Governance brings together academic experts, policy makers, and students to define, analyse, and propose remedies to the most pressing security and governance challenges the world faces in the 21st century.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX