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MA in Conflict Security & Development


Development and security are inextricably linked, yet all too often both academics and policy-makers address them separately. The MA in Conflict, Security, and Development is a unique globally-recognized programme that brings together these interrelated areas of study, acknowledging that conflict, insecurity, and underdevelopment interact in dynamic ways and that a full understanding of them requires a holistic approach. The programme exposes students to a variety of complex transnational issues, taking a multidisciplinary approach to some of the key questions facing policy-makers and scholars today. It is designed to enhance students’ analytical, research, and critical thinking skills, to provide them with detailed practical knowledge of conflict, security, and development around the world, and to prepare them to become leaders in the public and private sectors, government, and academia. 

Entry requirements

Applying, fees and funding

Alexandros Petersen Scholarship

Module information and course structure

Vibrant international student community

Most of our students come from outside the United Kingdom. Our students arrive from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and they bring a wealth of specialised experience and detailed regional knowledge with them. Successful applicants have come to us with backgrounds in international relations, history, economics, and other directly related disciplines, as well as from less ‘traditional’ fields like medicine, engineering, and the arts. Many also come from the professional world, including Government and NGOs. The breadth of experience and diversity of backgrounds of our students translates directly into a more dynamic and rich learning experience, where students learn from each other both inside and outside of the classroom. Students go on to an equally diverse range of careers in public service, the military, INGOs, international organizations, and private companies. Recent alumni have gone on to successful careers at in academia, the United Nations, journalism, the British government, and the International Criminal Court.

Flexible programme structure

The programme’s core course introduces students to the major debates in the fields of security and international relations, regarding the interaction between processes of political and economic development, conflict, and violent social change. Subjects explored in detail include the developmental sources of armed conflict; the politics and practice of peacebuilding; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants after civil war; Security Sector Reform; post-conflict reconstruction, aid and aid conditionality. Students then choose from a broad selection of optional modules where they can develop their particular interests. These modules cover topics such as diplomacy, counterterrorism, post-conflict reconstruction and peacekeeping, global health and security, human rights and transitional justice, political economy, and globalization, as well as region- and country-specific topics. Students also write a 15,000 word dissertation which provides the opportunity to define and undertake a substantial research project, guided by an expert supervisor. 

Practical Skills

A focus on combining theory and practice runs throughout the course.  A rigorous training in academic schools of thought is complemented by an interactive and hands-on learning experience that includes debates, presentations, simulations, and the innovative use of technology to broaden students’ exposure to a range of perspectives. As part of the classroom experience, some of our students have interviewed ambassadors, heads of international organizations, and political party leaders. Outside the classroom, students are given frequent opportunities to network with a range of high profile visitors, from academics to government ministers, ambassadors, and generals, who can offer different perspectives and challenge students’ assumptions.  

Cutting edge research

KCL’s location in the heart of London also gives our students access to think tanks, organizations, and firms that are on the cutting edge of the security and development field. Students are also encouraged to take the initiative to organise their own events and fora in order to  continue the debates and discussions that have begun  in the classroom. In 2012-3, CSD students helped create the student blog and journal, Strife— this is just one of the many ways in which our students engage with the public. CSD students also organize an annual conference bringing together policy makers, practitioners, and leading experts. This year’s theme is ‘Organised Crime in Conflict Zones’.

Excellent job prospects

In the CSD programme, students are taught by a growing group of experts. The programme’s faculty includes pioneers in their fields, who are conducting ground-breaking research and who are often at the forefront of world events as they happen. Programme faculty have worked for the World Bank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the UN Commission on Human Security, the UN peacekeeping mission in D.R. Congo, UNDP in Sierra Leone, and a US presidential campaign. They regularly advise governments, international organizations, private firms, and others on current issues of conflict and development. Staff also bring a variety of regional specialties to their teaching, and they have conducted field research in Sierra Leone, Liberia, D.R. Congo, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor. Students are all assigned a personal tutor and a dissertation supervisor who ensure that they receive individual support throughout their studies.

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