About the MA Program

About the MA Program

Established in 2001 the MA Program in Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck was strongly inspired by the UNESCO's famous Manifesto 2000, which proposed to turn the new millennium into a new beginning, an opportunity to change, all together, the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence. The six corner stones of the Manifesto 2000 are:

  • Respect the life and dignity of each human being
  • Practise active non-violence
  • Share time and material resources
  • Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity
  • Responsible consumer behaviour
  • New forms of solidarity


The program took the Manifesto 2000 as an argument to gather faculty and students from all around the world to fill these points permanently with new life, to explore our planetary understanding of peace and conflict transformation. From there we concluded that there are as many peaces in the world as there are human perceptions and that the challenge for an academic program is to analyse the relation between these myriads of interpretations, evaluate their predominantly harmonious flow and find ways of transforming the sometimes competing interests. Thereof resulted a Call for Many Peaces, formulating the specific character of this program. Gradually we developed a systematic understanding of different forms of peace. According to our findings the main “families” of peace interpretations are:

  • energetic peaces
  • moral peaces
  • modern peaces
  • postmodern peaces
  • transrational peaces

We developed text books on this topic and in the context of our program all these interpretations will be discussed and respected. However, the spirit of the Manifesto 2000 demands to promote our common understanding of peaces and it does not allow just to repeat the traditional wisdom, be it religious dogma or the scientific state of the art of previous epochs. According to the four leading principles of the program, scientificity, inter-culturality, inter-disciplinarity and orientation on practical experience we try to transgress the limits of conventional modern and postmodern schools of peace studies, which are abundant all around the world.

In addition to a first class academic education of the network in Peace Studies the Innsbruck program offers a special field training component designed to integrate academic excellence with the skills required in real conflict situations. Students have to be prepared for the adventure of a very holistic – physical, emotional and intellectual - exploration of themselves, their society and in more general terms of the whole world. Transrational peaces, as defined in this program, twist the division between subject and object; they go beyond the conventional limits of reason; they are not only rational but also relational; they start the search for peace with the deconstruction of the observer’s identity; they apply all the methods of conventional peace studies and go much further. Thereof derives a unique curriculum and the world’s most challenging academic training program for peace workers.

Applicants shall know that we do not only say that, we mean it and we do it!

Curriculum - Legal Frame

The UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck offers academic education and professional training in the interdisciplinary field of Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation.

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The degree of a Master of Arts in Peace Studies will be awarded to students who successfully complete 4 terms including the elaboration of a Master's thesis. The Master has a value of 120 ECTS. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) permits to transfer this degree to any equivalent international Master of Arts and the respective credits from this program to any equivalent MA Program in the world. The Master’s degree is the most prestigious postgraduate degree within the Austrian Law.

The program is operated and accredited by the University of Innsbruck. It is held at the Tyrolean Institute for Higher Education and occasionally at various additional places such as the Hermann Gmeiner Academy, the Seminarhaus Holzöstersee, but also at the training camps of the Austrian Army, the Red Cross, the Fire Fighters, the Native Spirit Camp and many more. “Change of perspective” is crucial in the program’s philosophy. This will be experienced physically throughout the classes.

Particular Academic Objectives

Based on the spirit of the UNESCO Manifesto 2000 the program offers specific qualifications in the areas of peace, development, security and conflict transformation. The classes cover aspects of energetic, moral, modern and post-modern understandings of peaces and related fields.

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However, according to its scientific, intercultural, interdisciplinary and practical approach this program focuses more than anything on transrational interpretations of peaces, because we believe that these twist and integrate all the other aspects. An explanation of this philosophical approach will be offered in every introductory course.

Therefore we opt for an elicitive method of conflict transformation as proposed by John Paul Lederach. The whole curriculum is built according to this principle. This implies a shift away from prescriptive methods of conflict transformation as modern and post-modern schools mostly offer them. Elicitive methods trust in the transpersonal intelligence of people. Skilful mediators in our understanding are reflective practitioners rather than rote technicians. And this is what we want to educate in our program: reflective practitioners of elicitive methods of conflict transformation with the awareness of transrational peaces.

The way to such an understanding of peaces always begins with the perspective of the observer. If we feel called to intervene into the maybe unpeaceful affairs of others we should be most aware of our personal condition. This program does not believe in neutral, objective mediators, but we think that transpersonal relations begin inside every person involved, including the mediator. If conflicts are not perceived as technical mistakes of the “machine society”, which we can fix with our technical prescriptions, it becomes easy to identify the perspective of the mediator, who is always part of the conflicting system, as the starting point. Students of this program will be provided with the opportunity to go right through their own identity to this starting point. Once they graduate they will be perfectly skilled for elicitive methods of peace work and conflict transformation.

Our program aims to provide participants with an awareness of the multiple cultural and regional perspectives. Therefore we invite students and professors from all over the world to our University. They are living together at the Grillhof and at the other training camps. Although the courses reflect the high quality of our international faculty, a significant portion of the education occurs outside the seminars. Since peace, development, security and international conflict transformation is an interdisciplinary subject our students have backgrounds in a variety of traditional academic fields in addition to peace studies. Unlike most modern universities, this program understands that students themselves are valuable sources of information. Therefore, in addition to a standard education transferred by professors and scripts, we also cultivate a more horizontal approach to education, where students can teach each other. The program wants to challenge students both inside and outside the classroom. Given the diverse faculty and student body, we hold this approach to be very effective and challenging for both students and faculty. It creates an environment in which conversations among students and faculty continue in a small community. This stimulates the growth of a "community of scholars", that is particularly rich because of its diversity. There is a good reason, after all, that many students call their group a “family” and that lifelong friendships begin with their common experiences in this program.

Levels of Academic Achievement

1. Master of Arts in Peace Studies
A Master of Arts in Peace Studies will be awarded to students who successfully complete 4 terms (120 ECTS) including the elaboration of a Master's thesis. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) permits to transfer this degree to any equivalent international Master of Arts.

2. Certificate
A student who successfully completes one term in the MA Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation will receive a certificate.


Structure of the Terms

Each teaching term is divided into five modular periods.

The First Modular Period consists of an online introductory seminar for all students which will be realized before the presence period of each term. The first modular period is accredited with 5 ECTS points within the European Credit Transfer System.

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The Second Modular Period of any term is reserved for a two weeks lecture-tutorial (6 ECTS). The topics of this course will alternate each term between either an introduction to peace studies and conflict transformation or an introduction to development and security studies. All students attend this module. It is held as lecture of three hours in the morning plus a daily three-hours tutorial in the afternoon.

The Third Modular Period is an excursion-tutorial consisting of courses, field training and excursions on questions of negative peace and direct violence (6 ECTS). Those courses are taught “24 hours per day” during two weeks. These courses include the most demanding field training units.

The Fourth Modular Period offers seminars of each 7 ECTS worth of credit on questions of positive peace and structural violence within two weeks. The students choose one of the seminars offered.

The Fifth Modular Period offers separate workshops, of which students may choose (6 ECTS). These courses again are taught during two weeks and deal with questions regarding cultures of peaces.

Students following an occupation are considered through offering the courses in a compressed manner and by following an open system of components that makes it possible to recognize individual components even if they are not completed in immediate sequence.

Academic Assessment and Requirements

Term Paper
During the preparatory online seminar of the First Modular Period students complete a research paper of 25-30 pages, dealing with the topics of the program. This term paper is due at the end of the online phase and will be assessed before the start of the presence phase.

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Reading Requirements
During the presence phase students are required to complete all daily assigned readings and any other assignments as indicated by each professor. This amounts to approximately 20 pages per day.

Course papers
For each course a student enrolls in, a course essay of 8-10 pages must be completed within the relevant deadline set for this course Papers are assessed and graded by the course instructor.

Master Thesis
When the above requirements are successfully completed, MA students choose a thesis advisor from the faculty of the program. In consultation with the advisor, the student pursues a research topic for the MA thesis (150 pages). The student must present an official letter to the director, approved by the advisor, proposing a title for the thesis. Furthermore, it is mandatory that a fourth term student be inscribed also for the semester of her/his graduation as student at the University of Innsbruck. It is the responsibility of each student to contact the administration of the program in time to meet the inscription deadlines at the University of Innsbruck.

The elaboration of the thesis project will also be guided by a tutor. It is obligatory to discuss the advancement of the project with this tutor regularly. This either can be achieved in online sessions or in personal meetings. When the thesis advisor approves the final draft of the thesis, the director appoints a review committee. The committee awards the degree following the positive assessment.

The MA Degree at a Glance

A Master of Arts in Peace Studies will be awarded to students who successfully complete 4 terms including the elaboration of a Master’s thesis. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) permits to transfer this degree to any equivalent international Master of Arts.

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First Teaching Term: 30 ECTS
Completion of Five Modular Periods (I: Online, II-V: Presence Phase)
+ First Term Paper


Second Teaching Term: 30 ECTS
Completion of Five Modular Periods (I: Online, II-V: Presence Phase)
+ Second Term Paper


Third Teaching Term: 30 ECTS
Completion of Five Modular Periods (I: Online, II-V: Presence Phase)
+ Third Term Paper


Fourth Term -  Research Term: 30 ECTS
Completion of MA Thesis


TOTAL: MA Degree in Peace Studies: 120 ECT


After three teaching terms have been successfully completed (each of them comprising five Modular Periods and one term paper), candidates for the MA degree in Peace Studies are required to elaborate a written thesis of 150 pages in length (Fourth Term). After the approval of the MA thesis the degree of "MA in Peace Studies" will subsequently be awarded to students fulfilling all the requirements.

After Completing the MA: PhD Options

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The Universidad Jaumé I in Castellón de la Plana, Spain offers a Doctoral Program in International Studies in Peace, Conflict and Development. Graduates of Innsbruck's MA Program are treated preferentially when applying for the doctoral program in Castellón. The Universidad Jaumé I welcomes applicants speaking English or Spanish.

Graduates of Innsbruck's MA Program are furthermore eligible to apply for the Doctoral Program at the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, Dublin City University, Ireland.

Most further doctoral programs within the discipline accept Innsbruck's Master as admission requirement, however for all Universities without a formal cooperation with Innsbruck admissions will be decided on an individual basis.    



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