M.A. Peace Studies: Religions in Times of Conflict

Applications for this new program are now open. Apply now.

This program offers an interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse study of culture and religion in their political and social dimensions. The research and study of particular religious traditions, social and political context in which they evolved, and the political ideas they influenced, contribute to the promotion of peace, religious and cultural diversity, cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation.

The M.A. in Peace Studies utilizes the unique location of The American University of Rome to provide students the opportunity to study the development of religious institutions, their teachings and practices, in connection with the ever changing social context.

Through this program, students will develop an understanding of various traditions that shaped many cultures of today’s globalizing world. They will learn about religious and political ideas that are critical for understanding and resolving tensions and conflicts across the globe.

One of the key aims of the program is to equip future scholars and professionals with conceptual as well as practical tools for articulating a constructive role of religion in contemporary societies, and working in the areas of conflict resolution, intercultural and interreligious dialogue (especially in those societies in which particular religious traditions still have a strong impact on shaping the social, cultural and political spheres).

It is clear that religion is gaining significance again in the contemporary globalizing world. Apart from positive aspects of globalization, it is clear that intolerance, fundamentalism and religiously motivated conflicts have not been overcome. It is important to understand relevant religious traditions, their structure, teachings and practices, in order to address some of the most pressing issues that contemporary societies are facing, such as: economic and environmental crises; social and political tensions; immigration policies; (in)tolerance; cultural, religious, and ethnic diversities; integration of minorities; food shortages; rising inequalities, and demographic problems.

Course Description

The M.A. program Peace Studies: Religions in Times of Conflict consists of five core courses, five elective courses and the thesis. The total number of credit hours for the M.A. program is 36, of which 30 credits is for course work (15 in each semester) and 6 for the thesis.

Core courses

Core courses are obligatory for all students enrolled in the M.A. program. They include:

  • Religions and Empires (I)
  • Religions and Empires (II)
  • Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
  • Political Economy of Peace and War
  • Thesis Preparation

All courses are 3 credit courses

Elective Courses

Elective courses are designed to help students to shape their own professional and/or research profile, depending on their interests and future career aspirations. The focus of the elective courses is closely linked to particular topics of the Core Courses.

  • International Humanitarian Response
  • 666 Faces of Satan: Imagining Demons and “Others” in Oriental and Western Traditions
  • Politics, Philosophy and Religion
  • Rome and the Renaissance Papacy
  • Reformation and Reform in Sixteenth-Century Europe
  • Vatican II and Present-day Roman Catholicism
  • International Law
  • Islam and Politics
  • Democracy and Government in Today’s Society
  • Orthodox Christianity: Between Tradition and Modernity

All courses are 3 credit courses

Exact selection of elective courses offered in each semester is subject to change. Number of offered courses can be expanded or reduced, depending on the needs in each semester.

Students will also be offered a study trip to a location in Italy or the Mediterranean that has relevance to the program and topics of particular courses.

Employment/Career Opportunities

AUR’s M.A. in Peace Studies: Religions in Times of Conflict is designed to offer students a wide range of possible career paths. Potential careers include:

  • Prospective PhD students and independent researchers in the field of religious and peace studies
  • Professionals and scholars in the field of international affairs, conflict resolution and intercultural dialogue
  • Work in international organizations
  • Professionals engaged in the prevention of religious fundamentalism and religiously based social conflicts Analysts of religion and religious institutions
  • Program coordinators of religious and other NGOs with focuses on religion and society
  • Journalists/reporters on church and religion
  • Public policy makers and other public offices that require knowledge of religious issues
  • Diplomatic career in the countries where religion and religious institutions play an important role in politics and society
  • Teachers at secondary level

Admission Requirements

The prerequisite for admission to the M.A. Peace Studies: Religions in Times of Conflict program is a completed B.A. degree in the humanities or social sciences. Students are expected to have a solid knowledge of world history and international affairs, especially of Europe and the Middle East, and to be able to think abstractly. Students who do not have a completed B.A. degree in humanities or social sciences must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the required areas and may be admitted to the program with approval of the Program Director. Students who do not have the basic knowledge sufficient for the program will be asked to take certain key undergraduate courses before they can be allowed to take graduate courses.

International students whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English, as this is essential for the successful completion of the program requirements. Students who do not have sufficient knowledge of the English language can take the necessary English courses already offered by AUR.

To apply for the M.A. program, students are required to submit documents showing their previous education at the B.A. level together with list of all completed courses. Students are also required to submit a motivation letter which explains their interest in Peace Studies and their career goals. In addition to that, students are required to submit one letter of recommendation, preferably by their academic advisor or teacher at the B.A. level.

Before admittance to the M.A. program, all students will be interviewed. The purpose of this interview is to enable the Program Director and the M.A. Peace Studies Committee to have an insight into the students’ language abilities, knowledge of world history and the students’ ability to think abstractly. Students are expected to demonstrate their commitment and capacity to study at the graduate level.

The University reserves the right not to run a Program if it does not enroll sufficient numbers of students. Acceptance to the Program does not automatically guarantee that the Program will run.