Universiteit van Amsterdam
Conflict Resolution and Governance
Conflicts and questions about governance are rarely far apart these days. Street fires in cities in Western Europe, inter-ethnic atrocities, the trials of post-conflict development, the persistent spectre of religious war, and the depth of local conflicts over trade and environment all challenge our imaginations and strain our intellectual resources. The global and the local can almost not be kept apart and risks like climate change reframe the context for relating belief and action. The dynamics of these ?glocal' conflicts, their connection to broader patterns of social change, and the complexities of intervention in these settings increasingly set the focus and context for democratic governance. Conflicts provide the moments of opportunity in which the relationships, knowledge, and practical strategies necessary to sustain governance either develop or erode.
The master's programme in Conflict Resolution and Governance provides students with the conceptual and methodological foundation to develop a theoretically informed language of practice that will help them grasp shifts in the character and significance of conflicts, reason about action in local settings, and turn conflict into a resource for democratic governance. This foundation draws on traditions of conflict resolution rooted in international relations and the study of negotiation. It combines this conflict-oriented perspective with current theorizing about governance that emphasizes comparable features like uncertainty, difference, and the negotiated character of knowledge and action. The programme builds on the interdisciplinary tradition of the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam to provide students with the mix of resources needed to respond to the challenges presented by global, regional, and local conflicts and to situate contemporary events in a historical and comparative perspective. The programme combines empirical analysis with theoretical reflection and provides opportunities for skill building and for connecting research and theory with practice. The goal is to train students who can draw on the most vexing features of contemporary conflicts to fashion governance regimes from the fabric of local crisis.
Students who complete the programme will have the background in social theory and the grasp of the research findings and methods that are necessary to respond to the character of action in diverse settings. They will also have a sufficiently broad background to conceptualise local action in a critical perspective that avoids capture by contextual details. The programme helps students cultivate the practical imagination necessary to translate research and analysis into terms that can inform the design of institutions and interventions.
Students develop their educational programme and review their progress through regular contact with the academic advisor and the programme manager organised in both individual consultations and group meetings. To complete their degree, students must demonstrate their mastery of these elements of the programme by preparing, organizing, and conducting a focused empirical research project in the context of their master's thesis. During the writing of the thesis, students are expected to participate actively in the thesis seminar and to present their thesis proposals and research.
There is a limited number of available places for the Master's programme in Conflict Resolution and Governance: 30 students per year (including former preparatory programme students). If more qualified students apply than there are places available, only candidates with the most convincing academic standing are selected, based on:
- their previous study results
- the relevance of their previous studies within the Conflict Resolution and Governance domain
- their previous knowledge of research methodologies
- job experience
- and previously written academic work
All (research) master's programmes start in September (the first semester). International Development Studies and European Studies: Identity and Integration also start in February (the second semester). If you are accepted for one of the (research) master's programmes, your actual starting date will depend on your academic background as evaluated by the admissions committee. You may be required to start with preparatory courses offered solely in the first or second semester, or in the month preceding the master's programme.
Some master's programmes offer preparatory semesters for promising candidates with slight deficiencies. It is not possible to apply for a preparatory programme. Upon selection to the master's programme itself, the admissions committee decides whether or not a preparatory programme is needed.
If you think you may be required to first complete a preparatory semester, it is recommendable to apply before the application deadline of the semester preceding the start of the master's programme.
Please note that selection is not guaranteed. Only promising students with slight deficiencies are selected for the preparatory programmes.
- Grade Average
For enrolment in one of the master's programmes we expect our students to have completed their previous studies with an overall grade average equivalent to at least a:
- B/3.0 (American system)
- Second class, lower division Honours degree (British system)
- C (ECTS system)
- 7.0 (Dutch system)
For enrolment in one of the research master's programmes, we expect our students to have completed their first-degree studies with an overall grade average of at least an:
- B+/A- / 3.5 (American system)
- First class Honours degree (British system)
- B (ECTS system)
- 7.5 (Dutch system)
- Academic Level and Background
Applicants should have completed an academic bachelor degree or an equivalent degree in a field relevant to the desired (research) master's programme. Educational systems vary considerably across the world: some academic bachelor degrees are valued at being equivalent to three years of Dutch academic/university education, while others are evaluated at two years or less. The minimum entry level for a (reseacrh) master's programme is three years of Dutch academic/university education.
- Enlish Language Proficiency
The language of instruction at the ISHSS is English. All students must be able to read textbooks, understand lectures, take part in classroom discussions and undertake written work in English. Therefore, all non-native speakers of English applying to the ISHSS are required to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English. Applicants can show their proficiency in English by submutting an English language test such as TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge CAE/CPE, and an assessment of English language skills may be part of the application procedure. During the process, applicants are expected to correspond with the staff in English.