Master International Peace & Security

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  • Objectives
    To give students of international relations, historians, and political scientists a deeper knowledge of international law; to narrow the existing gap between international lawyers and international relations specialists; to educate people who could work in international organisations (both inter-governmental and non-governmental), in government, or teach international law and politics
  • Entry requirements
    students of international relations, historians, and political scientists
  • Academic title
    MA International Peace & Security
  • Course description
    rogramme description

    - The only MA in the UK which provides an integrated study of international law with international politics relevant to the contemporary world.
    - Choose from over 30 optional courses from Law or War Studies to tailor the programme to your interests.
    - Unrivalled location in Central London close to the Royal Courts of Justice, leading NGO's and research institutions, Westminster and London's legal quarter.

    We launched this programme with the Department of War Studies in response to the rapidly changing world after the Cold War. We aim to combine the strengths of both Departments and provide you with an integrated study of international law and international politics relevant to the contemporary world. This type of study is necessitated by the major changes in the domain of international peace and security which have occurred in recent years.

    The early 1990s saw radical change in the international system as has the start of the 21st century. Events in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, Libya and Haiti and the creation of ad hoc international tribunals, as well as September 11, the War on Terrorism and Iraq from 1990 to the present all represent new approaches to international order.

    Central to this is the reinterpretation by the United Nations Security Council of that which constitutes a threat to international peace and security; this single change has had enormous impact on international society and global security, forcing a reassessment of fundamental doctrines by scholars and practitioners at the interface of law and international relations. Together, these changes create a need for the integrated study of international relations and international law.

    Programme format and assessment
    Compulsory core module; two optional modules; compulsory dissertation. Written examinations and essays. Part-time students are taught at the same time as full-time students.

    Programme modules for MA International Peace & Security 

    Contemporary Security Issues (Core Course II) (Core Module)
    This course aims to link the disciplines of international politics and international law through investigation, analysis and discussion of contemporary security issues. This course complements the disciplinary study of international politics and international law (Core Course I) by providing an opportunity to apply theory in practical exercises. The course offers a framework in which the topics discussed in discrete disciplinary terms in Core Course I are integrated through investigation of prominent issues of contemporary international peace and security. The topics reflect the UN Security Council agenda over recent years in dealing with ‘threats to the peace’ in different parts of the world, as well as providing an opportunity to discuss current events in context. The topics include most of the major issues of the last decade of the twentieth, and the first years of the twenty-first century, placing them in the context of the International Peace and Security programme. The course prepares students to use their academic knowledge of practitioners’ tasks, such as analysing events, writing briefings and statements, preparing policy papers on current issues on the international security agenda etc. The two disciplinary perspectives are brought together in the final stages of the programme by workshops, in which the issues discussed in both strands of the core course are integrated through investigation of two prominent issues of international peace and security.

    Law and Conflict in International Society (Core Module)
    This core course aims to provide the foundation for an integrated study of international relations and international law. It seeks to do so by providing a basic introduction to the disciplines of international relations and international law. The course will embrace the most important concepts and issues in each field, treating similar areas in each discipline in parallel. The unifying element is the set of issues surrounding sovereignty and the state in both disciplines and in international life.

    This course will examine the theory, art and practice of diplomacy, both as an instrument of foreign policy and an institution in the international system. It will analyse the way in which diplomacy, unlike most other aspects of international life, emphasises that which states have in common as well as those things which divide them. It will study diplomacy from the perspectives of politics, international law and history. In addition to this, it will look at the roles and functions of diplomacy regarding states and their policies, as well as the conduct of diplomacy in different forums and in different collective activities. The detailed substance of the course will focus inter alia on topics such as the following: diplomacy and intelligence; military diplomacy; summitry; mediation; the role of diplomacy in multilateral forums. Students will be encouraged to make use of case studies to illustrate general propositions about diplomatic theory and practice.

    Human Rights and International Security
    This is an inter-disciplinary course with elements of law, politics and philosophy. Human rights issues are studied mainly in the context of international relations: how they affect relations between states and other international actors (eg, the UN, Nato, EU) and how international relations bear on human rights. Relations between order, stability and justice are extensively discussed. The course pays considerable attention to issues of universality of human rights in a multicultural world. In that context the problem of religion and human rights is one of the central topics. Historical and cultural traditions of different societies are dealt with so far as they affect human rights and international relations. Benefits as well as pitfalls of processes of democratisation are studied. Finally, the course analyses topical practical issues such as humanitarian intervention and the role of human rights in various UN field operations.

    International Migration and Globalisation
    This course will look at the causes of migration, the role of globalisation and transnationalism, the right to migrate in international law, the right to seek international protection under the refugee convention, and the way in which this right is being interpreted and applied by supranational and national state systems. The course will focus on the application of the Refugee Convention to the Dublin Convention countries in Europe as well as its interpretation by UK courts and tribunals. To this extent, the focus will be as much on the legal as on the non-legal aspects of international migration. Students will be expected to read materials in the field of international relations and international law as well as examine detailed immigration decisions from courts and tribunals.

    International Peace Support Operations
    Since 1948 UN forces have been used for peaceful purposes to act between opposed armies in war zones and crisis areas. By the 1990s, the UN’s efforts to maintain international peace and security were increasingly focused on civil conflict and peacekeepers found themselves in an environment that was dangerous and complicated by the number of warring factions. The wars and violence of the 1990s took place in failing states and involved civil militias, warlords, child soldiers, starvation, displaced communities, looting on a massive scale and terrible human rights abuses. By 2000, troops from at least 75 nations were involved in international operations which deploy under the supervision of NATO, ECOMOG, CIS, OSCE and the UN. Contributing to international peaceforces has moved from being a peripheral and undemanding military activity to becoming a central defence requirement and a major item in national defence budgets. The purpose of this MA option is to explain how the concept of peacekeeping has changed since the contingencies of the Cold War period to cope with emergencies of the 1990s; to show how peace forces have grown in military power and changed their approach from being conciliatory to confrontational.

    Nationalism and Security
    The aims of this course are to promote multidisciplinary understanding of concepts, issues and debates regarding nationalism and security and to encourage understanding of the interaction between statehood and population groups. Furthermore, the course examines the relationship between national political discourse and the peace-conflict axis and fosters conscious critical reading and discussion of issues of ethnicity, identity, statehood, self-determination and self-protection.

    Prosecuting War Crimes
    This course examines the establishment and conduct of international war crimes (including crimes against humanity) prosecutions. It evaluates the background to the emergence of war crimes as a concept in the 20th century, looking at martial, ethical and legal issues. It studies the creation of the first international tribunals following the Second World War and the issues which arose from these. The course examines the interaction between politics and law in the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the relationship of laws and rules to the social activity that is war.

    The Conduct of Contemporary Warfare
    The aim of this course will be to provide students with an understanding of contemporary military operations, in the light of economic, social, technological and political changes affecting the environment in which these operations take place. Conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be covered. The course will build on issues raised in the MA core and provide an opportunity for those students who wish to develop further their interest in contemporary strategic issues.

    The Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes
    As disputes are inevitable in the international political society of States, this option considers the principal mechanisms, institutions and procedures for peacefully (re) solving them. The option is concerned only with inter-State, not with intra-State, disputes, unless they have international repercussions. It shall not be concerned with disputes between States and private persons, unless they give rise to inter-State disputes, in which case, the latter and their solution will be the central focus. The option considers the nature and suitability of negotiations, mediation, resolution institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and its principal judicial organ – the International Court of Justice (ICJ); the European Court of Justice (ECJ); the World Trade Organisation (WTO); the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and the Tribunals established or to be established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), etc. Although founded on (international) law, this option has immense diplomatic, political and international relations’ aspects with implications for the defence and protection of national interests.

    The State in International Law and International Politics
    This course deals with legal and political issues of the State. It will look at issues such as the creation of states, their recognition and succession to them and state sovereignty. Questions of self-determination of peoples and succession will also be discussed. The course ends with topics on jurisdiction and state responsibility under international law.

    One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Other programs related to national and international security

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