Political violence, terrorism, and civil conflict have seriously affected the lives of millions of people around the world. Moreover, the legacy of 9/11, the rise of groups like ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and the emergence of far-right groups in the West have brought questions about the nature, evolution, causes, consequences of and normative justifications for non-state political violence, including terrorism, to the forefront of academic, policymaking, media and popular debates. Similarly, security responses to these challenges feature prominently in global politics. Governments pursue security strategies to preserve order and protect their citizens. Yet many governments also participate in conflict and political violence by holding onto power and preserving systemic injustices.
The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen’s University Belfast provides you the tools to understand and critically engage with these issues. It equips you with the foundations and the most up-to-date research and methodologies in the fields of terrorism studies, security studies and conflict analysis. This programme helps students develop a critical and analytical approach to the use of political violence and terrorism in history and the contemporary world.
The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security 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. It assesses state responses to the threat of terrorism and the challenge for security. This programme 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.
Violence, Terrorism and Security highlights
To allow students to gain knowledge and understanding of violence, terrorism and security in sufficient depth and breadth to avoid superficiality or narrowness.
- 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.
- Queen’s is ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020).
World Class Facilities
- Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School. Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellent (Times Higher Education, 2019). Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Edcuation World University Rankings 2020). Queen’s is ranked 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020).
Internationally Renowned Experts
- Our teaching staff have global standing as experts in their field. They regularly interface with policy-makers, state governments and sectoral actors giving expert advice and expertise to the field. We also have excellent links to our Research Institutes.
- Located in Belfast, Northern Ireland we offer 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 with access to guest lecturers who were involved in Northern Irish conflict, the peace process, and including researchers, policy makers to ex-combatants.
- By connecting theory and practice there is an optional custom-designed and subsidised week-long field visit to Brussels organized by our partners in the Leuven Institute where students engage with counterterrorism experts, security practitioners in NATO, EU Commission and various NGOs.
- Our programme attracts international award holders of the highest calibre, including Marshall and Mitchell scholars. Study with like-minded students from various backgrounds in VTS. Some of our students have previous experience in the United Nations, national police forces, military, among many others, before coming to study with us. Study with like-minded student from various backgrounds.
This timely programme provides dynamic and critical study into a perpetual problem. It will help you develop a critical and analytical approach to problems in history and the contemporary world of these three areas. It challenges accepted wisdom and opens up the debate about the role of violence in relation to political power, all taught in a post-conflict society.
Your colleagues will be drawn from the security, law enforcement or defence backgrounds, and you’ll learn from the expert advice of policy-makers and governments.
On completion of the course students will be able:
• To provide dynamic and critical study in Violence, Terrorism and International Security. Its aim is to help students develop a critical and analytical approach to problems in history and the contemporary world of these three areas.
• To allow students to challenge 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.
• To allow students to gain knowledge and understanding of violence, terrorism and security in sufficient depth and breadth to avoid superficiality or narrowness.
• To develop students understanding of various approaches to the core concepts underlying this programme.
• To prepare students for further study of violence, terrorism and security or related disciplines and for employment in a range of professional contexts, for example teaching, nongovernmental organisations or the media.
• To develop students' enthusiasm for the subject, increase their intellectual curiosity and enhance their awareness of the cultural importance of an understanding of Violence, Terrorism and Security
Course Details: MA and Post-Graduate Diploma Degrees There are two different degrees available in Violence, Terrorism and Security.
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.
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.
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.
Course Information Core modules are so students acquire foundational knowledge and understanding in this field, students will take three core modules covering the theories, debates, and issues in the study of political violence, conflict, terrorism and security.
Six taught modules, plus a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words.
Modules (Autumn) Core Modules
PAI7028 - Violence, Terrorism and Security
HAP7001 - Approaches to Research Design
PAI7051 - Contemporary Security
Modules (Spring) Core Spring
One core module - PAI7007 - Global Terrorism
Spring Semester Modules - Elective modules offer the chance to specialise in a particular area of interest, build on foundational knowledge, and develop focused expertise.
Plus student must take two modules from the following list:
PAI7027 – Conflict Intervention
PAI7030 - International Political Economy
PAI7032 – Gender, Politics and Democracy
PHL7038 - Philosophy of Conflict and War
PAI7050 - Ethnic Conflict and Consensus: The Power of Institutions
PAI7036 – The Politics and Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transitions
PAI7058 – From Cold War to Cold Peace: The Transformation of the International Order (1979-1999)
ANT7023 – Anthropology of Conflict
CSJ7008 – Conflict Mediation
LAW7815 – Counter Terrorism and Human Rights
LAW7816 – Comparative Human Rights
* Please note that this is an indication of the available elective modules in MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security. There may be other modules available to take, and in some years one or two of these may not be available (due to staff sabbatical, etc.).
Over the summer term students: Dissertation Over the summer term students complete a 15,000 word MA dissertation
Some recent MA VTS dissertation topics have included:
• ISIS and discourses of violence
• Gender, agency and terrorism
• UK Counter-terrorism policy
• Counter-insurgency and targeted assassinations
• Covert Intelligence and Collusion
• Cultures of Youth Violence
• 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
People teaching you
Students will have the opportunity to study under world-leading researchers in the areas of conflict, terrorism, security, and peace studies such as (in no particular order): Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, Professor Debbie Lisle, Dr Michael Bourne, Dr Shane Brighton, Dr Heather Johnson, Dr Andrew Thomson, Dr. Timofey Agarin, Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana, Dr Ralph Dietl, Dr Jamie Hagen, Dr Keith Breen, Professor Richard English; among many others at the school of HAPP and beyond. Please see “our people” at https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/happ/subject-area/politics/people/
Dr Andrew Thomson is a Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and a Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. He is the convenor/director of the MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security and among the many staff that teach in this programme. His research interests include pro-government militias and civilian defence forces, dynamics of violence in civil war, counterinsurgency and "irregular" warfare, and state violence. Andrew is an expert on militias and mercenaries in US foreign policy. His book, Outsourced Empire: How Militias, Mercenaries and Contractors Support US Statecraft, examined various non-state armed forces in US-led interventions around the world. Andrew is also well-known for his work on civilian self-defence forces. He is interested in how using civilians as combatants or security forces in counterinsurgency settings, as in Iraq with the Sons of Iraq program, affect insurgent targets of violence. Finally, he also focuses on the current peace process in Colombia in the context of multiple armed groups. He recently completed a project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund on how FARC members’ interactions with other armed organisations influenced their disarmament process. He is also on the governing council of the Conflict Research Society (CRS).
Morning / Afternoon / Evening
The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security 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. Our 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.
Some of our graduates now 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, British Army and Irish Defence Forces. Graduates also work as senior government policy advisers, in international NGOs and the media.
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.
Employment after the Course
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 an academic career, as a number of our graduates have done.
Learning and Teaching
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.
Students will be able to retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources plan and execute a piece of independent research; appreciate, and display an understanding of, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research design.
Subject Specific Skills
Students will be able to reason critically; apply theoretical concepts; identify and solve problems; analyse and interpret data; identify appropriate research techniques relative to overall research design; and demonstrate and exercise independence of thought.
Students will be able to:
• critically assess the work of others;
• find, digest and sort information;
• work independently;
• participate constructively in groups;
• manage their time effectively and work to deadlines;
• Students will be able to structure and communicate their ideas effectively both in oral and written form.
Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:
• Policy reports
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.
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.
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.
The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit http://go.qub.ac.uk/RPLpolicy for more information.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
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).
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.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
- Academic English: 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.
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,450 Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,450 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,250 EU Other 3 £17,700 International £17,700
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.
Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.
Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.
If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.
Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.
There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Violence, Terrorism and Security costs
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
How do I fund my study?
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 £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How to Apply
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.
Fees and Funding