Conflict, Security and Development MA

University of Exeter
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Master's programs



The MA Conflict, Security and Development builds on Exeter’s strengths in international relations and security and is particularly relevant to students hoping to work for NGOs, aid organisations, international bodies such as the United Nations or other international agencies. Our high quality academic training is balanced with valuable professional skills development, giving you a fully-rounded degree which truly enhances your CV.

The programme aims to give you first-hand insight into the challenges faced by organisations and government agencies when responding to humanitarian crises, civil wars and international conflict. By gaining an insider's view of the challenges involved in activities such as conflict analysis, post-conflict reconstruction or policy development, you'll be better equipped to interrogate the myths that surround conflict, security and development and improve your understanding of their relationship within a political context. 

  • High quality academic training by world-leading experts with real-world experience
  • Integrated study of the relationship between conflict, security and development
  • Accredited work placements in the UK and overseas in the development, diplomacy and policy making sectors
  • Study in a department ranked 9th in the UK for Politics and International Relations in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019
  • Regular extra-curricular departmental talks by policy makers, activists and visiting scholars

The best way to study conflict, security and development is to combine theoretical and practical approaches. That’s why an integrated work placement module is at the heart of our programme.

Dr John Heathershaw, Founder of MA Conflict, Security and Development.

Programme structure

The programme is studied over 12 months (full time) or 24 months (part time). The programme comprises 180 credits in total: taught modules worth 120 credits in total, and dissertation modules worth 60 credits.

Each taught module is normally taught through seminars, underpinned by reading and essay assignments.

The integrated work placement is a key element of the programme, and includes professional skills development and project work based on a work placement within an organisation or an applied research assistantship. The work placement module includes both academic and vocational supervision, and places students in a variety of organizations, including private sector companies, advocacy and development groups, think tanks in the UK and overseas and research assistantship.*

You may also be able to choose optional modules (up to a maximum of 30 credits), from any other discipline, with the agreement of the module convenor.

*Please see the 'Finance' tab for details of costs involved with work placements

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

With the exception of the dissertation and work placement, each module on this programme is normally taught through academic lectures expanded through seminar discussion, presentations, group work, reading and essay assignments.

You will have an individual supervisor for your dissertation, which is a 15,000 word extended essay on a topic of your choice (following discussion and approval from your supervisor).


Work placements

All students undertake a placement or assistantship relevant to Conflict, Security and Development as part of the programme.  Each student will be assisted in finding placements at one of the international institutions, companies and NGOs with which the university has contact, or a placement with a relevant organization identified by the student themselves.  Alternatively, research assistantships with Exeter academics working on a contemporary policy issue are available.  The university cannot guarantee a particular placement or assistantship to a particular student.  Students must be active from the outset in pursuing placement opportunities of their choice to give them the greatest chance of achieving their preference.

All work placements are self-funded. As the placements are bespoke and vary a great deal, we are not able to identify the additional costs with any certainty. These may range from under £100 in train fares to over £1000 for flights and expenses overseas. Some providers pay expenses and some overseas hosts provide a homestay free of charge. Some grant schemes are available to which placement students may apply. Remote working and research assistantships are also available in Exeter and are preferred by some students. In some cases the costs of the placement may be reduced to zero or almost zero.


A postgraduate degree in Conflict, Security and Development is a pathway to a range of careers in international politics. security and development.

Our careers advisory service offer expert guidance to all students and will help you plan your future through activities such as psychometric testing, employer presentations, skills events, practice job interviews and CV preparation.

In addition to the academic and knowledge-based skills provided by this programme’s subject material, your studies will also develop personal skills which are highly valued by employers, such as:

  • Advanced independent thinking, with the ability to undertake self-directed learning and time management to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • Experience of working as an individual on challenging material
  • The ability to reflect on your learning, evaluate personal strengths and weakness, and map out a plan of personal development based on those reflections
  • Competence with standard IT applications, and an understanding of efficient and effective ways to obtain information from library, database, and online sources.
  • Experience of working as a participant and/or leader of a group, and of contributing effectively to the planning and achievement of that group’s objectives
  • Experience of giving presentations to others in your field
  • The ability to construct a rigorous argument, and defend that argument citing relevant sources, both in written form and orally.


Library services

Our main library is open 24/7 throughout the academic year. With a book stock in excess of 1.2 million, we have one of the highest UK academic library ratios of books to students. The main library offers self-service machines, state-of-the-art multimedia facilities, and an extended wifi network. The library provides world-class study facilities to all students. It has extensive holdings of works on political science, international relations and the various sub-disciplines.

Entry requirements

For admission to the programme we would normally expect that you hold a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in any subject. While we normally only accept applicants who meet this criteria, if you have a 2:2 or equivalent, are coming from a different academic background which is equivalent to degree level, or have relevant work experience, we would welcome your application.

However, the programme has been designed for students from a wide range of first degree backgrounds, enabling them to broaden their knowledge in this field. Non-standard applications will be considered on their merits and mature students are encouraged to apply.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirementsPearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

  • UK/EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £19,000 full-time

University funding

The funding section has information on all available Scholarships, Bursaries and Studentships open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

Please contact us if you would like more information about this programme, or if you would like to arrange to come and see us.

Postal address

SSIS Student Recruitment Office

Where to find us

Politics is located on the University's Streatham Campus. For information on how to find us, please see our directions to Streatham Campus and the Streatham Campus map.

Study our MA Conflict, Security and Development

Dr Gregorio Bettiza talks about our MA Conflict, Security and Development, a programme that is particularly relevant to students hoping to work for NGOs, aid organisations, international bodies such as the United Nations or other international agencies.

Find out more

More Information

Posted on:

Start Date:


Master's programs


Exeter , United Kingdom