For centuries, nation-states have typically interacted through two principal means: war and diplomacy. This interdisciplinary programme offers you the opportunity to explore these central elements of world history and contemporary affairs from the medieval period to the present.
Delivered jointly by the Department of History and the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, the programme allows you to gain an understanding of international relations from historical and theoretically informed perspectives. Subjects explored include the development of the interstate system, the evolution of warfare, and the contemporary theory and practice of international diplomacy. The programme is closely aligned with the Centre for War and Diplomacy, which provides access to talks from world-leading scholars and practitioners.
Equally suited to those seeking professional development or pursuing a research career, this programme will support you to develop vital analytical skills and a deep understanding of the major forces shaping international relations in the past and present.
The Master's programme provides the opportunity to:
- Combine the study of warfare and diplomacy to achieve an in-depth understanding of the forces shaping international relations
- Study these subjects across a broad chronological range from medieval times to the present
- Approach the study of warfare and diplomacy from both a historical and theoretically informed perspective
- Work with scholars from different disciplines who are experts in the study of warfare and diplomacy
- Engage with the work of world-leading scholars, as well as politicians, diplomats and military leaders through the Centre for War and Diplomacy
- Develop expertise and skills to enhance your career potential in a range of sectors or prepare for doctoral research
2:1 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in History, Politics and International Relations or related discipline
We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.
If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.
English Language Requirements
We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.
We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 5.5 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.
If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.
Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email email@example.com
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
International Order and Disorder
In this module you will gain a foundation in the history of international relations from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) to the present day, in order to understand the making and evolution of the international system. This systemic approach will be complemented by a focus on political, economic, military, social, and cultural shifts and challenges, as well as on major international political actors. Each session will deal with a specific historical period and a theme or issue of major relevance. The module will typically cover the following topics and themes:
- the modern international system from its birth in the mid-17th century until its first implosion during the Napoleonic Wars;
- the alliance system that emerged following the fall of Napoleon;
- the world-spanning British Empire; the complex and multi-layered alliance system of German chancellor Otto von Bismarck;
- the declines of China and Russia and the rise of Japan from the mid-19th to the early 20th century;
- the diplomatic escalation leading up to the First World War;
- the experiment of the League of Nations during the interwar period, and the renewed attempt to create an organisation for world peace after the Second World War with the United Nations;
- the far-sweeping post-war decolonisation process in Asia and Africa;
- the Cold War;
- the post-Cold War order.
By the end of the course you should be equipped to assess whether the modern international system has been marked by order or, rather, disorder.
Issues and Practice in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy
Diplomacy and Foreign Policy are central to the understanding of international politics. The structure of the international system induces a constant need for political dialogue and negotiations. Besides war, diplomacy is the common language states are using to interact on the world stage.
Complementing the first core module (Theory and Concepts in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy), this module aims to apply your theoretical understanding of diplomacy and foreign policy to contemporary diplomatic and negotiation issues and great power politics. Our teaching and learning strategy seeks to give you both a theoretical and practical understanding of contemporary issues in diplomacy and foreign policy. Where possible, academic teaching will be complemented by guest lectures (e.g. by a practitioner) and in-class activities such as mock negotiation exercises.
Topics covered vary each year but we often explore issues relating to the following areas: Nuclear weapons and foreign policy, Arms control and diplomacy, International climate negotiations, South-North relations and development, Diplomacy and terrorism, and Citizen protection.
Researching and Writing History
Alongside having a passion for the past, researching and writing a quality piece of history requires close engagement with the historian’s craft. What does good history look like? How can we be sure we are at the cutting edge of our discipline? What does it meant to write well?
In this core module, you will be guided through the process of conducting advanced historical research, reflecting upon the skills that you have and how they can be applied to extended pieces of research. Spanning both Michaelmas and Lent term, this module will take you from an introduction to postgraduate study through to laying the foundations for your dissertation, developing your understanding of the discipline of history, and your identity as an historian. The module culminates with a conference, where you will present your work to peers and members of academic staff, receiving feedback to develop your own and the opportunity to help your peers develop their projects.
This module will be assessed by a portfolio of work developed throughout the course, including a feasibility study.
Theory and Concepts in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy
Diplomacy and Foreign Policy are central to the understanding of international politics. The structure of the international system induces a constant need for political dialogue and negotiations. Besides war, diplomacy is the common language states are using to interact on the world stage.
This module introduces students to ways of conceptualizing diplomacy and foreign policy in the 21st century:
- Why do states rely on diplomacy?
- What are the current forms and features of diplomacy and foreign policy?
- Is diplomacy the only form of international dialogue besides war?
- How do states (and statesmen) negotiate?
- How has diplomacy evolved throughout history?
- Does ‘global governance’ exist?
This module is designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop your knowledge of both theoretical and practical understanding of contemporary issues in diplomacy and foreign policy. Where appropriate, academic teaching may be complemented by lectures and in-class activities carried out by practitioners (diplomats, civil servants, etc).
Theory and Methods in Postgraduate Studies
This module serves to consolidate postgraduate research and learning support by enabling students to engage with theories, methods, and skills relevant to your studies. The module is core for all PPR PGT politics students and complements core subject and discipline-specific provision in religious studies and philosophy. Through this module we aim to equip you with the ability to reflect upon the processes and implications of research project planning, design and execution in Politics, Philosophy and/or Religion.
The first part of the module examines the principles of research, including different disciplinary traditions of knowledge production. It goes on to set out the process of structuring a research project and explores how to develop and apply theory. The second part of the module examines a range of methods for conducting research, including interviews, surveys, and case studies. The final section covers questions of ethics and goes through how to write up and present research. Through the module, students will design research projects, develop writing and critical evaluation skills, and have the opportunity to present their research ideas as part of the annual MA conference. The module involves a combination of lectures, small group discussion, and presentations covering the following areas:
- The academic research process.
- Project planning, design and process management.
- Ethics in postgraduate research.
- Resource identification and review processes.
- Data acquisition techniques and issues.
- Analytical and interpretative approaches.Academic conventions (e.g. making an argument, writing, referencing).
Warfare in History
In this module you will gain a foundation in the history of warfare from the medieval world to the present day, allowing you to understand and gain specific insights into the evolution of and ‘revolutions’ in military affairs. Within this longue durée approach, you will be equipped to question how warfare has been affected by political, economic, social, technological, and cultural factors, as well as influential military figures, thinkers, and powers. Each session will deal with a specific historical period and a theme or issue of major relevance, and the module will typically cover the following topics and themes:
- early medieval forms of warfare such as that of the Vikings;
- knights and soldiers in the High Middle Ages;
- the series of conflicts that constituted the Hundred Years’ War in the Late Middle Ages;
- the rise of the fiscal military state in the early modern period;
- the concept of a nation in arms through the Napoleonic Wars and such 19th century conflicts as the Franco-Prussian War;
- the idea of total war through the lenses of the First and Second World Wars;
- the Cold War and nuclear strategy;
- the ‘hot’ decolonisation wars of the Cold War, and more recent counterinsurgency campaigns like that in Afghanistan.
A Special Relationship? The USA and Great Britain from World War II to the War on Terror
Two of the most important developments of twentieth century international history were the decline of Britain's global influence and the simultaneous rise of the United States as a world power. Somewhat remarkably, these processes occurred without a major conflict arising between the US and Britain. Instead, relations between the two countries in the decades following the Second World War became increasingly intertwined, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the Anglo-American 'special relationship'. This module explores relations between Britain and the United States from World War II through to the War on Terror, and the role the US-UK relationship has played in international politics during this era. Has there in fact been a 'special relationship' between the US and Britain during this period? If so, what are the motivating factors for the two states in pursuing this relationship and the broader forces binding them together? You will address these questions and others exploring how US-UK relations have developed in the realms of diplomacy, defence, economics and intelligence.
Bodies in conflict: war, health, and society, 1500-2000
In recent years, the history of the body has emerged as an important framework for re-thinking the relationship between individuals and the state in war. While histories of war have for a long time focused on the political causes, course, outcome, and legacies of wars, ‘new’ military histories now seek to better understand how warfare has been experienced ‘from below’ – both by those mobilised as combatants as well as by civilians who came directly into contact with the apparatus of war. This module embraces such developments in the history of war, using a focus on the body which will enable students to re-evaluate the impact of conflict on those who participated in it. Structured around four broad themes—medicine, the body, sexuality, and the mind—this module will consider the bodily legacies of warfare in a wide range of times and places. The module thus ranges from topics such as the role of the military in the emergence of clinical medicine in the 18th century to the medical impact of widespread disability on medical and social care practices following the American Civil War; or from the long history of rape as a ‘weapon of war’ to the surprising story of the use of methamphetamines by the German Wehrmacht in the Second World War. Drawing on a large range of sources, including diaries, memoirs, medical texts, engravings, photographs, and wartime propaganda, this module will thus give students the opportunity to explore the changing ways in which people experienced conflict and its aftermaths through their bodies.
Conflict Management and Contemporary Conflicts
The course aims to explore a variety of approaches to conflict management in contemporary conflicts, by third parties and parties in conflict, and critically assesses their effectiveness and potential. The course draws its theoretical foundations from peace and conflict research but is aimed at enabling students to learn to assess the scope for conflict management and peace-building in practice. The module includes both academic literature as well as policy relevant papers.
The focus of the course is on analysing peace processes and practical problems of conflict prevention, conflict management and peace-building in a range of contemporary international, internal, ethnic, community and environmental conflicts.
Students will be divided up into groups of two or three, and each group will take responsibility for identifying and investigating a specific approach to conflict management in a conflict of their choice. The choice of cases will vary with the interest of students. In recent year topics included Afghanistan, Chechnya, Georgia, Kashmir, Kosovo, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Liberia/Sierra Leone, Timor Elste, conflict prevention and the emergent global climate change negotiations, and peace-building in contemporary Africa and Asia.
The course is taught in 10 2-hour lecture seminars, with the first half devoted to the lecture and the second half dedicated to substantial presentations by the student / group.
Barash, David P. & Webel, Charles P. (2008) Peace and Conflict Studies, London: Sage.Darby J & Mac Ginty, R, Contemporary Peacemaking (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)Eriksen, T. H., Ethnicity and Nationalism (Zed, 2010).Kaldor, M., New & Old Wars (Polity Press, 2006) Lyons, T. (2008) Conflict Management and African Conflicts – Ripeness, Bargaining and Mediation, London: Routledge, 2008)Misra, A. Afghanistan: The Labyrinth of Violence (Polity, 2004).Misra A., Politics of Civil Wars (Routledge 2008)Paris, R., At War’s End (Cambridge Univ. Press. 2005)Ramsbotham, O, Woodhouse T. & Miall, H, Contemporary Conflict Resolution – 3rd edition (Blackwell's, 2010)Rupesinghe, K, Civil Wars, Civil Peace (Pluto Press, 1998)Zartman, I.W., Peacemaking in International Conflict (USIP, 2005)European Centre for Conflict Prevention, People Building Peace (1999)Wallensteen, P., Understanding Conflict Resolution (Sage, 2006)
Conflict, Security and War
This module revolves around different aspects of Asian Security and looks at some of Asia’s trouble spots. The module will also examine the politics of intervention in these conflicts, and the attempts made to manage and prevent conflicts, and transform these conflict zones into more peaceful situations. The case studies that this module looks at include Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China.
We aim to provide you with an in-depth knowledge of the different facets of contemporary Asian conflicts and how international organisations and Western and Asian governments have attempted to deal with these challenges in recent times. Conceptually, the module seeks to examine the principles of state failure; terrorism, ‘New Wars’, the New Security Agenda, nationalism and sub nationalism, international conflict prevention; peace keeping; and global governance. We also cover topics like the rise of Islamism and Hindu nationalism in contemporary South Asia. This module aims to provide you with an overview of the key security concerns of South-Central Asia.
From Peter to Putin: Russia as a Great Power
In this module you will explore the ascent of Russia as a great power, examining first how Peter the Great’s desire to open a ‘Window on the West’ helped to lay the foundation for tsarist Russia to become a European great power, and then how nineteenth-century Russia sought to balance its role in European politics with ‘imperial’ expansion to the south and East. You will then explore the role of the USSR in the international political system, before examining how Russia’s contemporary international presence can be understood in terms of both the Soviet and the Tsarist past.
Gaining a broad historic overview of key themes and developments, you will also have the opportunity to study particular events in depth in order to relate them to broader patterns of change (eg Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, Russo-Japanese War, First World War, Great Patriotic War; etc).
Major Approaches to the Study of International Relations
This module aims to provide you with a broad understanding of the main areas of study within the field of international relations (IR). The introductory session seeks to address the general question as to what constitutes the study of IR. Subsequent sessions aim to examine the major approaches to the discipline (both mainstream and critical), focusing upon the distinctive insights and analyses that they have brought to bear.
You will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the nature of the wide-ranging theoretical debates that have shaped the discipline and will also be encouraged to take a critical approach to these debates to consider the ways in which we study IR.
More particularly, you have the opportunity to:
- understand and critically assess the interpretation of the world and of IR put forward by each theory
- evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each theory
- apply the theoretical tools to the “facts out there” (linking theory with practice)
Religion and Conflict (distance learning)
This module aims to provide you with the opportunity to advance the knowledge and skills needed to understand and analyse why conflict happens within and between religious groups, and to assess the positive and negative contributions that religions make to wider struggles – from local disputes through to global terrorism.
- When does religious encounter become conflict; when and why does religious conflict turn violent?
- Are some religions more prone to conflict and violence than others?
- Is global terrorism a religious matter?
- Are religious groups necessarily in tension with the secular state and secularism?
- Is conflict a necessary condition of religious and ethnic diversity?
- What resources do religions draw on for the resolution of conflict and peace-building?
- Do diplomacy and international relations have a role to play in resolving regional and cross-border religious disputes and violence?
The module is designed to introduce you to key concepts and issues in scholarship on religion and conflict: e.g. on the relationship between conflict and violence, religion and ethnicity, the ‘clash of civilizations’, intra-religious as well as inter-religious conflict, jihad and martyrdom. We also aim to explore the importance of context – historical, social, geographical and political. Analysis and debate about religion and conflict will be situated in particular cases and may include, the UK and Europe, the US, the Indian sub-continent and sub-Saharan Africa.
Spatial technologies for Humanities Research
This module covers a range of geospatial technologies which are now available to historians, and is an opportunity to develop the practical and critical skills which will allow you to apply them to your own research. In doing so, you will also be exposed to many of the ongoing trends and debates within the growing field of Digital Humanities.
You will be introduced to the ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities, identifying its theoretical bases and technical requirements, as well as some of their limitations and practical implications. Topics include Spatial Theory and Thinking, Geographical Text Analysis, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
You will explore cutting-edge research in the field in a number of case studies, and engage with them critically. In addition to this theoretical component, you will have the opportunity to develop essential capabilities in GIS, including how to find, load, edit, visualise and analyse different kinds of data. You will learn how to combine texts and records with contemporary and historical cartography, sensor data, and satellite and aerial photography. This will allow you to visualize your own data in 2 and 3 dimensions, perform spatial statistical analyses, transform it into interactive time lines and visualisations, or produce high quality maps for presentations and publications. In doing so, you should acquire an important set of transferable digital skills and build an awareness of the opportunities, challenges and limitations of working with this medium.
The Cold War in the Third World
The traditional historiography of the Cold War focused predominantly on the two superpowers, i.e. the United States and the Soviet Union, and the European theatre of the conflict. In this module, in contrast, you will gain a different, less Euro- or Western-centric view of the Cold War. Studying the impact of the East-West struggle in the Third World – Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America – you will explore how the course of the Cold War was affected by wars, conflicts, and crises in the Global South. You will learn that the Global Cold War was not only dominated by the two superpowers, but was also heavily influenced by Third World actors and lesser Cold War powers such as the People’s Republic of China.
The study of the Global Cold War is currently the most dynamic field in Cold War History and, probably, even in International and Military History more generally. As a result, you will be able to engage with a vast body of international literature, which is based on multi-lingual and multi-archival research around the world. Meanwhile, you will have the opportunity to analyse a vast array of documents, and carry out primary sources-based research. This is rendered possible by the availability of specific Cold War History document collections, national collections of diplomatic documents, as well as digital archives and document collections.
Theorising Security and War
This module aims to examine the changing character of war and security in a time of rapid and disruptive technological and geopolitical/ecological change. We will combine analysis of contemporary policy documents with the interdisciplinary insights of intellectuals - such as Zygmunt Bauman and Paul Virilio - that have examined how war has changed in the modern age.
You will be introduced to a range of concepts that are relevant to the debates about the future of war – concepts such as ambiguous war, the gray zone, unrestricted warfare, the third offset strategy and the three block war.
While we ground the module in broader debates from social and political thought about war and modernity, you will also have the opportunity to explore a range of evolving and inter-related case studies that are central to understanding how war is changing, for example: cybersecurity/artificial intelligence; cities and urban war; drones and the future of robotics; climate change and ecological insecurity.
Warfare in the Medieval World, 1100-1500
In this module you will explore a crucial period in the history of warfare, from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, when episodic conflicts gave way to near continual war. In Europe, ‘chivalric’ ideals were first established, in order to limit noble bloodshed and protect non-combatants, and then overturned, as the killing of nobles on the battlefield and the systematic terrorizing of civilian populations became standard strategy. Western crusaders conquered swathes of the Holy Land and led expeditions to North Africa, before the revanche of the Abode of Islam under the Ayyubids and then the Mamluks, while the Mongol Empire emerged to confront the powers of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Military technology was transformed, with the invention of the trebuchet and then the gun, and new and potent battle tactics were developed, most famously the arrowstorm of the Hundred Years War. In this module, you will encounter a range of topics, perspectives and approaches to warfare across the medieval world, and be able to develop skills in identifying and assessing both new interpretations and primary sources, such as participant accounts, government records, and battlefield archaeology.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
Fees and Funding
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Scholarships and bursaries
At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2022, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2023 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Fees in subsequent years
The University will not increase the Tuition Fee you are charged during the course of an academic year.
If you are studying on a programme of more than one year's duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. The way in which continuing students' fee rates are determined varies according to an individual's 'fee status' as set out on our fees webpages.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2022/2023 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
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