• How do international paramilitary groups, like Wagner, affect armed conflicts?

  • How do new technologies, such as drones and artificial intelligence affect the dynamics of armed conflict and war?

  • Why are the cycles of police violence and urban uprisings recurring in the French banlieues?

  • Why did MINUSMA, the UN mission in Mali, decide to leave and why is it so hard to end the armed conflicts in this country?

  • Does climate change lead to new types of armed conflict?

Investigating conflict dynamics and societal challenges

Our international programme places a spotlight on the intricate dynamics of conflict, collective violence, and the associated political, cultural, and societal problems and tensions. Embracing an interdisciplinary perspective, we draw upon a rich tapestry of academic disciplines such as history, anthropology, political sociology, international relations, and political economy. Our faculty, hailing from various backgrounds and expertise, offer a comprehensive learning environment that nurtures diverse perspectives and encourages collaboration.

Theory, analysis, and qualitative research skills

By traversing academic disciplines, our programme seamlessly integrates theory with in-depth analysis and rigorous training in qualitative research skills. You'll have the opportunity to engage in fieldwork, internships, or participate in research labs centered around specific themes that change on a yearly basis, for example “genocide” or “urban conflict”. This hands-on approach empowers you to explore real-world contexts and contribute to the development of practical solutions.

Why this programme in Utrecht?

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The highest ranked programme in its field

The Keuzegids Master's Selection Guide and Elsevier rankings consistently rate this programme as the best in its field. In 2023, the MA programme received an outstanding student verdict on meeting different cultures and being stimulated to excel in an international environment.

Utrecht University has a long tradition of teaching and research in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. Not only is this Master’s programme the only one of its kind in the Netherlands, but its integrated approach to the study of violent conflict and human rights also makes it unique in both Europe and the USA.

Close-knit community 

Our students come from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds. They form a close-knit student community and benefit from a learning and research experience that is as stimulating as it is unique. Our students are highly motivated and ambitious; 93% of students entering this programme complete it within one year.

Gain practical experience

The aim of this programme is to integrate theory with practice. You will be taught using a range of detailed case studies and gain practical experience through social research and field activities such as participant observation and in-depth interviews. You will also be exposed to policy knowledge and will have the option of an internship based in the Netherlands, Europe, or overseas.

Our expert staff and network

Our teaching staff has firsthand experience with qualitative research on a variety of topics, including remote warfare, genocide, street gangs and militias, the weaponization of the environment, and conflict in urban settings. The staff has worked in different countries and regions, from Iraq and Syria to Colombia, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, Southern Africa, the US, France, and the Netherlands.

Meet our teaching staff

Is this a human rights programme?

Although there is a "human rights" component to this programme, it is not a law programme. Human rights are addressed through the analytical lens of conflict processes and dynamics. This graduate programme is therefore about conflict studies and human rights, not a programme of conflict studies or human rights. For those seeking a programme more in that direction, Utrecht University has a separate graduate programme on Human Rights that is more focused on jurisprudence and legal aspects of that subject.

I chose to study Conflict Studies in Utrecht because I wanted to improve my understanding of conflicts and my ability to relate conflict dynamics to others.

Key facts

International Relations
Language of instruction: 
Mode of study: 
Study duration: 
1 year
Tuition fees: 
Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee, full-time) 2023-2024: € 2,314

Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee) 2023-2024: € 18,332

More information about fees
Croho code: 
Accredited by the NVAO
Graduate school: