Violence, Terrorism and Security

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Key Programme Information

Entry Year


Programme length *

1 year(s)

Places available



Full-Time, Part-Time


Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

* 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.


Missed the recent webinar?  The recording is now available to watch:

MA Violence Terrorism and Security

Speaker -  Dr Andrew Thomson , Programme Director

Click here to watch the recorded webinar

This programme provides dynamic and interdisciplinary analysis into fields of conflict studies and theories and concepts on violence, terrorism studies and international security. The MA in VTS helps students develop a critical and analytical approach to problems in history and the contemporary world in these three core areas. It challenges accepted wisdom and opens up the debate about the role of violence in relation to political power in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Successfully completing the MA can enhance students' opportunities for career advancement by developing their knowledge and skills, including the independent research skills required for the dissertation.

Why Queen's?

  • Queen’s University, located in Belfast, Northern Ireland offers a unique opportunity for our students to access and engage with a community context previously challenged by violence, terrorism and security as part of the programme of study. Our students have the opportunity to live and study in a post-conflict environment as well as meet people involved in Northern Irish conflict and the peace process, from researchers and policy makers to ex-combatants
  • World-class research: Students have the opportunity to study under world-class academics in the areas of Violence, Terrorism and Security such as Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, Professor Richard English, Dr Debbie Lisle, Dr Michael Bourne, Dr Heather Johnson, Dr Julie Norman, Dr Dan Bulley, Dr Andrew Thomson, among many others. 
  • The Research Excellence Framework 2014, a UK-wide research assessment of higher education institutions, has placed Queen’s in the top 20 for research quality and impact.
  • Study with like-minded student from various backgrounds: Some of our students have previous experience in the United Nations, national police forces, military, among many others, before coming to study with us. There is an excellent and diverse student body, and you will also learn quite a lot from fellow students.
  • Queens has an excellent academic record: Queen’s University Belfast is a Russell group university, in the top ten for research intensity (REF 2014). In the Sunday Times “Good University Guide” 2016, Queen’s was ranked number 31 in the UK.
  • Excellent student satisfaction and employment: The MA in VTS has excellent student satisfaction ratings according to the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2016 conducted by the Higher Education Academy. Queen's University Belfast has been placed 15th overall for Student Experience and 28th for Graduate Employment.
  • It is also possible to study for a PG Diploma in each of the areas covered by the MA and the PG Diploma is constructed around the coursework elements of the MA. On successful completion of the coursework, it is possible to complete the dissertation for an award of MA.
  • Outstanding campus facilities and student support and guidance.  You will be a member of the brand new Graduate School which is ranked 1st out of 159 universities worldwide.  For more on the graduate school see


For more information, please see


Course Details

Six taught modules, plus a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words.

Students will take:

3 core modules/classes in the autumn term:

  • Violence, Terrorism and Security
  • Approaches to Research Design
  • Contemporary Security

2 core modules/classes in the spring term

  • Conflict Intervention
  • Global Terrorism 

Plus one elective module/class from the following:

  • Ethnic Conflict
  • International Political Economy
  • Philosophy of Conflict and War

Over the summer term students complete a 15,000 word MA dissertation

Some recent MA VTS dissertation topics have included:

  • Bioterrorism and arms control
  • Child soldiers and international law
  • Counter-insurgency and targeted assassinations
  • Covert Intelligence and Collusion
  • Cultures of Youth Violence
  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Gender and Counter-terrorism
  • Light arms proliferations
  • NATO expansion and Ukraine
  • New Terrorism and ISIS
  • Paramilitary recruitment
  • Policing Private Military Companies and Africa
  • Radicalisation and Recruitment
  • Religious Diplomacy and Paramilitary movements
  • Security and Development
  • Security Sector Reform
  • State power and the intelligence community
  • Taliban, counter-insurgency and narco-terrorism
  • Transitions from terrorism: ETA and the IRA compared
  • UK Government PREVENT policy
  • US Counter-terrorism strategies
  • US Domestic Terrorism

The MA and Post-Graduate Diploma Degrees

There are two different degrees available in Violence, Terrorism and Security.

The Post-Graduate Diploma (PgDip) consists of all the above six core taught modules/classes, but students do not complete an MA dissertation. The PgDip is a credit-bearing and internationally recognised post-graduate degree, but it is not the equivalent to a Master’s degree. It is both an entry and exit route.

The Master’s degree (MA) in Violence, Terrorism and Security is awarded to students who successfully complete six core taught modules/classes and the MA dissertation.

Moving from a PgDip to an MA: Students who are registered on the PgDip are invited to register and complete the MA upon successful completion of the six core taught modules/classes. 

Assessment & Feedback

Assessment and Feedback are continuous throughout the course of study. 

Students are provided a range of assessment approaches, both formal and informal as well as formative and summative, in order to enhance the student learning experience and improve student attainment.  Each module typically consists of two or three main pieces of assessment and can include essays, policy reports, simulations, presentations, among other forms of assessment.

Feedback is provided throughout the VTS programme for continuous student reflection and growth.  Teachers provide thorough and systematic feedback on assessed work. Feedback is also available from your personal tutor as well as via various support mechanisms and training courses in the university, such as via the Student Guidance Centre.



Learning and Teaching

  • Teaching hours take place in morning/afternoon/night.
  • Each module usually consists of 2-4 contact teaching hours per week, depending on the module.  Most study, however, consists of independent research and reading.  Each student is also allocated a personal tutor/academic advisor who, alongside teaching in each module, aids in the learning process.
  • Modules involve a variety of teaching approaches designed to inspire critical and transferable skills.
  • Learn with award winning teachers. Teachers in the MA VTS programme are leading experts in their field.  Many have been granted teaching awards for their innovative and engaging pedagogical approaches.
  • There are multiple talks, events, and extra-curricular activities and training courses on campus each year, outside of the formal VTS programme, that are related to Violence, Terrorism and Security.
  • It is anticipated that internship opportunities in Belfast will be made available to students.

Entry Requirements

MA: normally a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject, or a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject with relevant professional experience.

PGDip: normally a 2.2 Honours degree (minimum 57%) or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject, or a 2.2 Honours degree (minimum 57%) or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject with relevant professional experience. Applicants who do not meet this entry requirement may, at the discretion of the relevant programme convenor, be considered for admission on the basis of relevant work experience. Please note that a piece of written work may be requested in this instance. 

Admission under the Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) may be considered for this course. Please visit for the University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and information on application procedures.

International Qualifications

For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.


International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes. Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme.

Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.

If you have queries on course content please contact the school representative below.

Dr Andrew Thomson

School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy
Tel: (+44) 028 9097 2526



How To Apply

Queen’s University Belfast Terms and Conditions 2017 Entry
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.

Career Prospects

The MA in VTS provides you with the essential transferable skills and in-depth knowledge of theories and issues in the areas of violence, security and terrorism for career development at any stage, from students straight from an undergraduate degree with limited to no prior professional experience to those seeking continued professional development.  The programme enables you to broaden your horizons providing you with a competitive edge in a global graduate market in a wide variety of areas such as the security sector, including intelligence agencies, government agencies and public office, the military, NGOs, academia, businesses and corporations, and the media among many other possibilities.

We are proud that many of our graduates have gone to serve in the most senior ranks of a number of National Police Services, and Law Enforcement Agencies, Border and Immigration Control, National Armed Forces including the US Army, US Air Force, US Secret Service, British Army and Irish Defence Forces. Our graduates also work as senior government policy advisers in a variety of different countries, including the State Department in the USA, in international NGOs in diverse parts of the globe including major conflict zones, other graduates have gone into international security consultancy, and many have worked in the media, and others have gone on to successful careers working for international business in a variety of capacities. The MA also provides the research skills and knowledge to carry out a PhD to pursue, as a number of our graduates have done, an academic career. 

The Student Guidance Centre provides excellent careers training and advice, including 1-on-1 consultations

In addition, the Graduate School holds a variety of training classes and other skills-based lessons that are valuable in the MA education.  

QUB also has language learning opportunities for students.

Completing any of these and gaining other skills, such as second or third languages, can also dramatically contribute to the prospect of gaining employment upon graduation.

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014 ranks Queen's 26th for graduate prospects and graduate employment, which helps to explain why Queen's graduates play a leading role in the senior management of Northern Ireland’s security sector, Northern Ireland's top companies and NGOs as well as around the world. 

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

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Fees & Funding

There is a range of funding and scholarship options available to those considering study at Queen's.

Find out more

For tuition fee information see

Postgraduate loans
From the academic year 2017/18, the Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,280 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

For fees, funding and further information see:


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