Taught course

Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

Durham University · School of Government and International Affairs

Entry requirements

  • UK 2.1 Bachelor degree, or equivalent.
  • The degree should be in the field of social sciences, but we will actively consider significant relevant experience in lieu of this requirement.
  • Two satisfactory academic references. In cases of applicants who have significant relevant experience, one work-related reference and one academic reference would be considered appropriate.

Months of entry


Course content

Conflict prevention is built on the principle that, through skilled negotiation and mediation, the most intractable of differences can be settled peacefully. The most effective forms of conflict prevention and peacebuilding balance political with social needs and place a greater focus on local perspectives. They consider the important role played by young people and women, as well as taking into account social factors such as health and the environment.

This custom-designed, interdisciplinary MSc examines this specialised field through the lenses of human security, social justice, and diplomacy. You will gain the latest knowledge in areas such as conflict analysis, prevention, resolution and transformation, community-driven reconstruction, and peace processes in the context of contemporary conflicts and broader humanitarian interventions.

Using a range of innovative teaching techniques we incorporate the latest research, delivered by a combination of academics and practitioners – many of whom are recognised as world-leading experts in their field. You will have opportunities to develop operational and vocational skills in conflict mediation, humanitarian intervention, everyday negotiation, conflict-sensitive programme design, the use of peace indicators, participatory approaches to peacebuilding, and gender-sensitive approaches to security. You may choose to also explore these in the optional field trip module.

Your theoretical understanding and research skills are brought together in the MSc dissertation, while the innovative Humanitarian Intervention Simulation module gives you a chance to bring your knowledge and skills to life in a simulation of a conflict situation.

The MSc is likely to appeal to graduates who have a career in government, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs, humanitarian organisations, or academia in mind, and to mid-career practitioners looking to enhance their practical skills while placing them within a broader theoretical perspective.

Course structure

Core modules:

Defence, Development and Diplomacy in Conflict: Evolving Actors, Factors and Paradigms introduces key concepts around defence, development and diplomacy, and conflict, peace and security. It situates these concepts within the broader context of changing political structures, actors, conventions and paradigms and equips you with the conceptual tools to understand the changing character of conflict and its implications for peace as security in the modern world.

Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace discusses, at an advanced level, frameworks and concepts underpinning approaches to the prevention of violent conflict and the promotion of sustainable peace from macro to micro levels of intervention.

Peace Processes and Everyday Political Negotiation uses case studies to examine theories and concepts that underpin effective peace processes, and analyse factors that affect the outcome. You will investigate the role of mediators and facilitators (external and within communities), explore styles of political negotiation in conflict situations and their impact on everyday life and analyse the positive and negative factors that impact on negotiation.

Consolidating Peace after Violence studies the complex and inter-related issues of post-war recovery and reconstruction through a sustainable peace building lens. It also explores the links between state stabilisation, the establishment of good governance and building sustainable peace and security. In doing so, the course interrogates the classifications of failed and fragile states, the policies they give rise to, and their results.

The Capstone Exercise: Humanitarian Intervention Simulation provides you with an opportunity to test the knowledge and skills learned during the taught modules in a simulated conflict setting. Where appropriate, external practitioners such as development or humanitarian agencies may be engaged in the exercise.

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent work in a related area of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The 12,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MSc, bringing together elements of learning from across the course.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Capturing and Counting Peace and Conflict
  • Conflict Analysis
  • Conflict Mediation
  • Curating Human Remains
  • Conflict Sensitive Programme Management
  • Contemporary Challenges in the United Nations Peacekeeping
  • Defence Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Assessing Martial Power
  • Everyday Peace Indicators
  • Field Trip
  • Gender in the UN Global Security Agenda
  • International Negotiation
  • Participatory Approaches to Peace and Development
  • Transitory Lives
  • Urban Violence – Urban Peacebuilding

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
£14,700.00 per year
International students
£24,900.00 per year

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

School of Government & International Affairs