MA Violence, Terrorism and Security
Queen's University Belfast
Belfast, United Kingdom
1 - 3 year
Full time, Part time
GBP 19,100 / per year *
Earliest start date
* international fee
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, and consequences of non-state political violence 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 with 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 study of the use of political violence and terrorism in history and the contemporary world. The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security also challenges accepted wisdom and opens 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. This 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.
Violence, Terrorism And Security Highlights
This programme offers a unique opportunity to develop your knowledge, understanding, transferable skills and critical engagement with central issues in the study of political violence and terrorism as well as state responses to these challenges.
- 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 the Northern Irish conflict, the peace process, and including researchers, policymakers to ex-combatants.
- Queen’s University Belfast campus is at the heart of Belfast’s culture, as well as its art and social scenes. We’re proud to be part of a bustling, cosmopolitan city boasting a vibrant social life and rich cultural heritage. The McClay Library, which opened in 2009, blends the best features of a traditional library with the latest technology. It brings together wide-ranging library, computing and media services in a single location as well as offering study facilities suitable for quiet study and group work. Queen's University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group, combining excellence in research and education with a student-centred ethos.
- We have a world-class Graduate School. The Graduate School provides an exclusive postgraduate hub that values the needs of our students. Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School.
Internationally Renowned Experts
- Our teaching staff have global standing as experts in their field. They regularly interface with policymakers, state governments, and sectoral actors giving expert advice and expertise to the field. We also have excellent links to our Research Institutes, such as the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellent (Times Higher Education, 2019). Politics was ranked joint 1st in the UK for Research Intensity (Complete University Guide, 2021). Queen’s is ranked 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020).
- 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. We also hold numerous events and guest lecturers who were involved in the Northern Irish conflict, the peace process, and including researchers, policymakers to ex-combatants. We offer an optional extra-curricular custom-designed field visit to Brussels organised by our partners in the Leuven Institute where students engage with counterterrorism experts, security practitioners in NATO, EU Commission and various NGOs. This optional extra is subsidised but will incur some additional costs. 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 students from various backgrounds.
The MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security provide 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.
Queen’s is ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020).
Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised by a world-leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.
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.
Students take 6 modules across 2 semesters. Students take 3 required core modules in the Autumn semester. Then students take 1 required core module and 2 elective modules in the Spring semester. Students complete a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words over the summer semester.
Semester One (Autumn)
- PAI7028 - Violence, Terrorism, and Security
- HAP7001 - Approaches to Research Design
- PAI7051 - Contemporary Security
Semester Two (Spring)
- One core module: PAI7007 - Global Terrorism
Elective modules offer the chance to specialise in a particular area of interest, build on foundational knowledge, and develop focused expertise. Students 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 - Counterterrorism 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.).
Summer - 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 counterterrorism policy
- Counterinsurgency and targeted assassinations
- Covert Intelligence and Collusion
- Cultures of Youth Violence
- Gender and counterterrorism
- 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, counterinsurgency, and narco-terrorism
- Transitions from terrorism: ETA and the IRA compared
- UK Government PREVENT policy
- US Counter-terrorism strategies
- US Domestic Terrorism
Learning and Teaching
Classes/modules involve a variety of teaching approaches designed to inspire critical and transferable skills.
There also are multiple talks, events, and extra-curricular activities and training courses on campus each year, outside of the formal VTS programme, that is related to Violence, Terrorism and Security.
Subject Specific Skills
Students will gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of political violence, terrorism, and security across many cases around the world. Students will be familiar with theoretical and empirical issues at different stages in the conflict cycle, including the outbreak, development, and resolution of armed civil conflicts and the use of terrorism. Students will gain an understanding of, and be able to critically engage with, the main concepts in these fields (such as “terrorism”, “radicalization”, “security”, “peace”, etc.), the main theories (such as the causes of terrorism, the dynamics of civil conflict, approaches to counter-terrorism), and some issues and debates (such as the trade-off between security and liberty inherent with some counterterrorism tactics).
Students will also acquire a series of transferable skills that can be applied in a variety of contexts and career pathways.
Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to reason critically; apply relevant theoretical concepts; identify and solve problems; analyze and interpret data; demonstrate and exercise independence of thought; work independently; participate constructively in groups; manage their time effectively and work to deadlines.
Students will also be able to retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources plan and execute a piece of independent research; devise viable research proposals; apply various different research methodologies and approaches; identify appropriate research techniques relative to overall research design; appreciate, and display an understanding of, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research design.
Students are provided with 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, one worth 40% of your mark for that class/module and another worth 60%.
- Policy reports
Program Tuition Fee
Scholarships and Funding
How do I fund my study?
The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study.
A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £11,836 for taught and research Master's courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment, and application information are available on the UK government website.
English Language Requirements
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