Taught course

Defence, Development and Diplomacy

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

In recent decades, the combination of defence, development, and diplomacy (also known as the 3Ds) has played an increasingly important role in international politics. With more drawn-out conflicts, asymmetric wars of attrition, and a growing number of countries living in a state of ‘no peace, no war’, our understanding of conflict and conflict intervention is shifting. Conflicts are rarely resolved through military victory, international diplomacy, or long-term development. Instead, they require a comprehensive approach that combines all three to address the political, economic, and security-related needs of states and populations alike. Increasingly, success is determined by how well the different arms of government and civil society, both locally and internationally, can work together – and how well they understand each other’s perspectives.

This custom-designed, interdisciplinary MSc offers a unique opportunity to look at conflict, conflict intervention, and post-conflict reconstruction through the lenses of defence, development, and diplomacy. We explore the latest research using a range of innovative teaching techniques, delivered by a combination of academics and practitioners with world-leading expertise in areas such as violence and insecurity, international intervention, approaches to peace and justice, and mobility and displacement.

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 simulated conflict situation.

The MSc is likely to appeal to graduates who aspire to a career in government, the armed forces, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs, or academia, and to 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 and 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.

International Law and Conflict Intervention looks at the role, interplay and limits of defence, development and diplomacy in ongoing conflicts. You will examine the evolution of concepts and practices such as ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P), sovereignty-as-responsibility and humanitarian intervention within the context of a changing international state system.

Post-Conflict Reconstruction and State-Building looks at the interplay between defence, development and diplomacy in post-conflict reconstruction. You will examine a number of areas of operation such as: military capacity and the security sector; political structures; legal and ethical structures; development and socio-economic factors; and society and culture, and the way they intersect and affect each other.

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

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent work in a related area of defence, development and diplomacy. The 12,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MSc programme, 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
  • A credit-bearing language module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Studies

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
International students

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