Course details: Details | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
This programme is designed for students interested in a competitive MSc degree that combines academic and practical training on how to mitigate and eliminate conflict and violence in world politics. We offer research-led teaching at the intersection of International Relations, Political Psychology and Security Studies, combined with a 5-day training programme in 'Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation'.
Our students can follow a flexible programme with a wide choice of modules (part-time students are also welcome). In addition to our three core modules, we encourage students to take our new optional module in the Political Psychology of Conflict and Cooperation. Overall, our programme offers interdisciplinary training focused on the role of values, emotions, and beliefs in shaping the possibilities of conflict, cooperation and security at the international level.
In the School of Government and Society we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.
Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes nor to the immigration status of prospective EU students starting in 2016/17 and 2017/18. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.
Course details: Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
Our MSc degree explores the theory and practice of how individuals, states, and political institutions manage conflict, and develop cooperation in international relations. The programme considers how political communities with different values, cultures, histories, and security conceptions can build trust in a global system.
You will gain a multidisciplinary understanding of key global security challenges (e.g. climate change, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, and intractable conflicts inside and across state borders) and cover debates in International Relations, Political Psychology and Security Studies.
Topics and issues examined include:
- The Security Dilemma.
- Face-to-face diplomacy.
- Peace building, alliances and institutions
- Emotions in crises and conflicts
- The psychology of radicalization, terrorism, and political violence
- Identities of religion, gender, and nationalism
- Game theory: the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
- The risks of nuclear war during the Cold War.
- US-Iran nuclear relations.
- The possibilities for avoiding a new Cold War with China.
Our students explore cutting edge scholarship through three core modules: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics, Global Cooperation in Practice, and our exclusive training programme on Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation. In addition, our new module Political Psychology of Conflict and Cooperation examines the psychological determinants of political choices and behaviours. Our programme allows for a truly interdisciplinary training in understanding and tackling the challenges of complex international tensions.
Our MSc degree has one more distinctive feature: it is offered by the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS), a world-leading interdisciplinary research centre, in partnership with the Department of Political Science and International Studies. The ICCS has strong connections to high level practitioner networks, which offer summer internship opportunities. Our MSc students can also become members of the four ICCS Research Working Groups: Trust; Political Settlements; International Political Psychology; Unmanned and Remote-Piloted Systems.
Who is the programme for?
Our MSc degree is designed for students interested in international relations, political psychology and security studies. Our students share a common goal: to advance their academic training, establish a policy-related career, work in government, international organizations and NGOs, or serve as mediators, negotiators and diplomats to address intractable conflicts at all levels of world politics.
This degree comprises the following modules:
Compulsory core modules:
Dissertation MSc students to submit a 13,500 word dissertation (not applicable to Diploma Students)
Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (20 credits)
In this cutting-edge module, our students develop an informed appreciation of how fear, cooperation and trust shape the contours of world politics. The module explores the obstacles to building cooperation and trust, using a series of case studies. It also investigates whether these obstacles can be overcome through institutions, norms, and personal diplomacy between leaders. A key focus of the module is to introduce students to trust-building strategies and techniques, including the potential for face-to-face diplomacy to build trust and transform conflicts. The module is taught through interactive role-play scenarios in which students take on the role of policy advisors and diplomats in crisis and multilateral negotiation situations (for example, the Cuban Missile Crisis, US-China relations, nuclear non-proliferation, and global climate change).
Global Cooperation in Practice (20 credits)
This advanced module provides our students with the skills to understand and explain how the rule of law, institutionalisation, and governance creates structures under which cooperation can flourish. It examines how academic debates on cooperation and policy-making stand up against the actual experience of implementation. The module explores this issue by identifying models of policy and decision-making, and then testing them against practitioner experience. This will entail an examination of case study evidence derived from primary sources (communiques, memoirs, documentaries) and will draw upon policy cases from multilateral settings, including formal international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO.
Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation (20 credits)
This exclusive module is offered as a unique 5-day training programme which provides students with the opportunity to learn directly from specialists about the complexities and nuances of different approaches to conflict transformation in International Relations. The training programme equips our students with the advanced skills to understand how high-level practitioners wrestle with the dilemmas of trust/mistrust in their practical negotiating settings.
The module offers:
- Practical training in communication and mediation skills
- Specialist lectures with internationally-renowned academics
- Networking with high level practitioners in the field of conflict resolution
- Professional development though a Harvard role play simulation game
Students are encouraged to take the following module to complement the programme. This is a module that we believe best fits this degree, complementing an expanding knowledge gained in our core courses.
60 credits from the following:
For the remaining 60 credits, students will be directed toward specialist pathways derived from existing Masters provision in the International Development Department (IDD) and POLSIS The following pathways will be offered:
The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Masters degree fees 2018-19
Please check with the Institute for the latest fees information.
Learn more about fees and funding.
Postgraduate Loans for Masters students
The Postgraduate Student Loan has increased its maximum loan amount to £10,280. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page.
Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
For further information contact the School directly or visit studenthelp.bham.ac.uk.
Scholarships and bursaries in the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS).
For the MSc programme you require a good Honours degree or its equivalent. For those whose first language is not English, an IELTS Certificate is required. Entry at Graduate Diploma level is possible for those with a reasonable first degree. Graduate Diploma students can upgrade to the Msc on satisfactory examination performance.
Learn more about entry requirements.
We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
Making your application
When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages
We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the programme of study we offer, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.
To help you develop the above-mentioned skills, we adopt a range of teaching methods. They may include:
- Lectures - listening to experts sharing their knowledge and discoveries in challenging and provocative ways. Students are expected to 'read-around' the subject matter of their lectures, adding to their understanding and developing their critical faculties and analytical skills.
- Seminars - where you present and discuss your ideas and knowledge in smaller groups and debate interpretations and opinions with other students.
- Tutorials - are your opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor, usually in small groups.
- Workshops - are problem solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.
More about teaching and learning at the University of Birmingham.
Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.
Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soleil) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.
The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for postgraduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.
Our MSc students can pursue exciting and stimulating career opportunities with a range of organisations including government agencies, international organisations, the armed forces, NGOs, think-tanks, the media, the political world, and multinational corporations. Our excellent academic training is complemented by networking opportunities and voluntary work placements either at the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) itself, or at one of our partner organisations. All our placements are offered on a competitive basis, over the summer term for a maximum of 20 days in order to allow sufficient time for the completion of your dissertation. These include:
Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS)
Our four research-focused working groups invite applications for summer placements in the following areas:
Brittany Atkinson, Graduate Fellow with the US National Nuclear Security Administration
The course was all around excellent. I particularly enjoyed the five-day training programme, opportunity to complete a work placement, and the module diversity. The degree has helped me make a major career change. Following the degree, I am now pursuing a career that I am passionate about in national security.”
What attracted me to this course in particular was the fact that it balances theory with practice, which makes it quite unique compared to other courses which focus nearly exclusively on a theoretical approach.
Hannah Keogh, Junior Caseworker for an MP
I really enjoyed studying under the real leaders in my field. The course was assessed in a varied way, without too much emphasis on exams, which I believe allowed me to strengthen skills which would be more useful professionally.
One of the really interesting things about this masters programme was that we were taught by internationally recognised academics, we also had experts and practitioners on the topics we were studying come in and actually lead our seminars; for instance, Jamie Shea (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Emerging Security Challenges) from NATO.
ICCS Work placement: Brittany Atkinson
ICCS Work Placement: Christopher Featherstone
The European Leadership Network (ELN) was originally formed to help create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. It works on that agenda through its research, events programme and active network of former European political, military, and diplomatic leaders. The ELN carries out its work by producing and disseminating independent research and analysis, and by providing an independent platform for international dialogue and debate with a strong focus on workable and credible policy solutions. Its activities are currently structured around three areas: Global Security, Euro-Atlantic Security and the Middle East.
BASIC's vision is a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons, established by a cooperative global security agenda and formalized in negotiated treaties. BASIC seeks to engage diverse perspectives and broaden the scope of the discussion to find ways past existing frustrations. The organisation has 27 years of experience building an extensive and diverse network across Europe, the US and the Middle East. BASIC has a reputation for non-partisan, non-judgmental engagement and for seeking common ground, in the interests of nuclear disarmament.
More information about careers and employability.