The MSc combines core modules in International Conflict and Cooperation and International Organisation in Semester 1 with a research methods course. In the Semester 2, research methods continues and students take two option modules from a range of choices that focus on the Middle East, Africa, Migration and Resource Conflicts amongst others.
The course looks at the dynamics of international conflict and cooperation in light of major developments such as the end of the Cold War, the 9/11 terror attacks and the Arab Spring. The course takes a thematic approach to conflict resolution and the role of international organisations to focus on the role of conflict prevention and management in specific geographical areas in addition to the development and regulation of conflict in relation to factors such as natural resources and migration.
Normally an upper second class Honours degree in Politics, International Relations or an allied discipline, or equivalent qualification.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6 (minimum 5.5 in each skill), or TOEFL: Listening 21, Reading 22, Speaking 23, Writing 21.
Information on possible sources of funding
Modes of study
MSc: 12 months (180 credits)
Diploma: nine months (120 credits)
Certificate: three months (60 credits)
MSc: 27 months (six semesters, 180 credits)
Diploma: 21 months (four semesters, 120 credits)
Certificate: nine months (two semesters, 60 credits)
Course start date
Structure and content
The MSc contains core modules related to international conflict and cooperation as well as a range of options modules to explore issues in more depth. It also features a research skills module.
Delivery and assessment
Modules will typically be delivered in the evenings by lecture and seminar, although the emphasis will be on student participation and discussion, workshop sessions, as well as a variety of formal and informal presentations. Assessment is by presentations, essays and the dissertation.
Ramsbotham, Woodhouse and Miall (2011), Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Polity, 3rd edition.
Kelly-Kate Pease (2007), International Organizations: Perspectives on Governance in the Twenty-first Century, Pearson.
- International Conflict and Cooperation Analysis: Critically evaluates theories and causes of conflict in international relations, issues of war and peace in modern European and world history, and attempts at international cooperation through a variety of actors in international affairs
- International Organisations: Provides an in-depth analysis of the UN, NATO, OSCE and the EU as an international organisation. It will also consider non-governmental international organisations, such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross
- Research Skills and Methods A: During the first semester, you will be taught comparative methods in the social sciences, with particular emphasis on the study of political and economic history and international relations/conflict
- Research Skills and Methods B/Project design: During the second semester, you will present your own research plan, leading to your research dissertation project, thus achieving both standards of independent intellectual analysis and a spirit of community
Option Modules (note that not all option modules are available at any one time):
- Conflicts and Cooperation in the Balkans: Examines the rise and fall of Yugoslavia, the ethnic and religious conflicts that marred the wider Balkan region in the 1990s, as well as the role of external actors in the management and, at times, accentuation of conflicts
- EU-Russia Relations and the Shared neighbourhood: The focus of this module is the developing relationship between an expanding EU and a new, post-Cold War Russia, and the implications this relationship has for the wider geo-politics and geo-economics of the Eurasian continent
- Conflict in Independent Africa: Explores conflict in post-colonial Africa. It will focus on its causes and consequences, the role of international actors in African conflicts (for example, the Cold War and the Angolan civil war), regional conflicts such as that in the Great Lakes region, border wars (for example, Nigeria vs. Cameroon), civil wars (for example, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and genocide (for example, Rwanda)
- Middle East: Examines conflict in the modern Middle East in the context of addressing the widely held but increasingly contested belief that the region has unique characteristics which differentiates its political and security development from other regions in the developing world
- Peoples in Movement: Migrants, Refugees and Human Security: Looks at the causes and consequences of human displacement through colonization, boundary changes, political violence and the emergence of international organizations and frameworks to address migration-related issues
- Climate Change, Human Security and Resource Conflicts: Examines violent and non-violent conflicts where natural resources are a major contributing factor. It seeks to assess the causes, processes, solutions and implications of ‘resource conflicts’, focusing on a range of perspectives such as equity, ethics and environmental justice within the context of resource scarcity and rapid climate change
Research Dissertation Project: A research project conducted and reported to publishable standard in a 15,000-word dissertation. The project is supervised by a member of staff and represents a major part of the final MSc assessment.
Why study International Conflict and Cooperation (MSc) at Stirling?
Dr Peter Lynch
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the vast majority of the outputs submitted by the History and Politics staff were graded as international quality and a signiﬁcant proportion was of ‘World-leading’ quality. All staff in History and Politics were assessed, an indicator of how central research is to our activity.
Having previously studied at Stirling and thoroughly enjoyed it, coming back here to do a Master’s was the obvious choice. Having been able to live overseas after finishing an honours degree in History, I had developed an interest in public health in developing countries, particularly HIV transmission. I was looking specifically for a course that would afford me the flexibility to study something I was interested in academically and to combine that with a personal interest.
I emailed the course Director at Stirling and wasn’t surprised by the warm reception my enquiry received. I had approached other Universities and had been passed from pillar to post – a reminder to me of the advantage of a smaller university, where staff and students can interact.
I thoroughly enjoyed studying within the History and Politics department and for my degree dissertation I combined the issues of HIV transmission and conflict. While the subject matter was harrowing, I received invaluable support, guidance and encouragement from staff to produce a strong piece of work that would be of interest to prospective employers.
The course structure, including presentations, report writing and briefing papers, certainly served as a refresher and helped me to hone skills that I now use on an almost daily basis within my current position.
I work in Community Safety as a National Training Officer and while I am currently based in Scotland, I hope that the skills and the experiences I acquired at Stirling will help me to work overseas in the future.
Would I recommend this course and/or Stirling University? Yes – without a doubt.
Kirsty McKay, MSc in Conflict and Cooperation, graduated November 2010
The MSc in International Conflict and Cooperation is a gateway to employment in government agencies, the NGO sector and international organizations as well as into PhD study, research and academia. The course provides a background in conflict study, the role of international organizations and a thematic and geographical focus on distinct areas and problems as well as analysis of solutions. The academic skills aspects of the course also provide a background to undertake further research.
Skills you can develop through this course
- read and use texts and other source materials critically and empathetically
- appreciate the complexity and diversity of situations, events and mentalities
- recognise there are ways of testing statements and that there are rules of evidence which require integrity and maturity
- reflect critically on the nature and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline
- marshall an argument, be self-disciplined and independent intellectually
- express themselves orally and in writing with coherence, clarity and fluency
- gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information
- analyse and solve problems
- use effectively ICT, information retrieval and presentation skills
- exercise self-discipline, self-direction and initiative
- work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views
- work collaboratively and participate effectively in group discussions
- show empathy and imaginative insight.
- prepare for further academic research such as a Phd
Chances to expand your horizons
The MSc course seeks to provide opportunities for students to meet key figures involved in international organisations as a means to understand what a career in an International Organization or NGO would involve. The MSc seminar series, as well as the visits to international organisations, are also intended to facilitate contacts between students and potential employers. The course also tries to put students in touch with the voluntary sector. Volunteering not only provides work experience and networking opportunities in a relevant field, it allows students to exhibit a range of general skills that they acquired at university including researching, report-writing and presentations.
Where are our graduates now?
This course is designed to meet the needs of both current and future practitioners as well as those intending to further their knowledge on a specific subject by pursuing a research degree after the completion of their MSc thesis. On completing the course, graduates may expect to find employment in organisations that are governmental (FCO, MoD and the respective ministries in other countries), inter-governmental (EU, NATO, UN, NAFTA, WTO) and non-governmental (Amnesty International, Red Cross, Human Rights Watch).
Since the International Conflict and Cooperation course began in 2007, students have followed a range of post-MSc careers. The largest group especially evident in 2007 and 2010 were those who used the MSc as a means to pursue further postgraduate study in this field, with a group of graduates from the course going on to pursue PhD study at a range of universities. Other graduates have pursued careers in the NGO sector, public affairs and political research.