Violence, Terrorism & Security

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.

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements
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 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:

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.


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

Teaching Times
Morning / Afternoon / Evening

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.

It is anticipated that internship opportunities in Belfast will be made available to students.

Careers or further progression

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.

Further enquiries

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

Subjects taught

Course Structure
Core Modules (Autumn)
Violence, Terrorism and Security
Approaches to Research Design
Contemporary Security
Core Modules (Spring)
Conflict Intervention
Global Terrorism

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

Students will take:

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
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

Elective Modules
Ethnic Conflict
International Political Economy
Philosophy of Conflict and War

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.


Violence, Terrorism and Security highlights
World Class Facilities
•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

Internationally Renowned Experts
•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 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. 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.

Student Experience
•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. 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. 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.

Assessment method

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.

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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