MA Concentration in Religion, Politics, and Conflict

The MA Concentration in Religion, Politics & Conflict trains students to analyze and assess violent conflict with particular attention to the diverse roles played by religious actors, traditions and institutions. It offers a program of advanced study that treats religion as a specific field of inquiry in the theory and practice of peacebuilding, conflict analysis, conflict resolution, violence and nonviolence, ethnicity and nationalism, politics and political theory, diplomacy, and human development. In addition to these areas of study, the MA may be of particular value for individuals preparing to work in foreign service, peacemaking, second-track diplomacy, community development and organizing, religious leadership, or related areas of teaching/training.

The MA examines religion as it relates to both conflict and peace, exploring how and under what conditions religions fuel or help repair conflict, complicate or facilitate conflict resolution, and impact international and inter-community relations. The MA focuses on recent peacebuilding theories, on predictive models, and on the roles religions may play in transforming conflict and building peace. It prepares students for the complex challenges of building peace in the twenty-first century. 

For more information, please contact RPC Director Peter Ochs (Religious Studies).


How to Apply

For the Graduate MA program, click here.

For Master's Promotion Program for UVA undergraduates, click here.


M.A. Degree Requirements

The M.A. concentration requires successful completion of 30 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of course work (8 courses), 3 credit hours of preparation for a capstone project, and 2-3 credit hours in the program’s Proseminar. Course work must include the two foundational courses (listed below), at least two courses focused on a religious tradition, and four electives. Each student completes a capstone project in the final semester of study, presenting original research that contributes to the study of religion-related violent conflict. The RPC Proseminar facilitates social, intellectual, and professional development within the program. Each student takes a comprehensive examination in their final semester. Students are strongly encouraged to acquire any language proficiency necessary for their capstone research and their professional goals.

Course Distribution Requirements: MA candidates in Religion, Politics & Conflict must fulfill the following distribution requirements:

  • Coursework (24 credits total)
    • Foundational Courses (6 credits): Two courses that prepare students to integrate the studies of religion, politics, and violent conflict. Students choose two the following: “Religion, Violence & Strategy,” “Religion, Politics, and Conflict,” or “Religion & War.” With faculty approval students may propose one substitute course that comparably integrates studies in religion, politics, and violent conflict.
    • Religious Traditions (6 credits): At least two courses that focus on a single religious tradition (for example, two courses on Jewish traditions; or one course on Islamic traditions + one course on Hindu traditions; etc.).
    • Electives (12 credits): Four elective courses. Each semester the MA administrators will send a list of eligible electives.
  • Proseminar (3 credits): Students enroll each semester in the one credit-hour Proseminar, which focuses on social, intellectual, and professional development within the program. In Fall 2018, for example, students will (1) take two trips to Washington DC to meet with leaders in Government, NGO and religious organizations; (2) mentor a small group of RPC undergraduates; (3) receive individualized career counseling; and (4) meet as a group to discuss student research.
  • Capstone Project (3 credits): The Capstone Project is the culmination of a student's work in the RPC MA, serving as an MA thesis. Developed throughout the MA course of study, capstone projects include the construction of a research proposal, advanced readings, work in professional organizations, independent research in and outside the university, and the composition of a final thesis that introduces the student's original research as a contribution to the study of religion-related violent conflict. Milestones: By the end of the first full-time semester of coursework, a Capstone Proposal must be submitted to the MA Director. All capstone projects must include research that engages the student in a professional agency or institution relevant to their thesis topic and (ideally) their vocational ambitions. During the final semester of study, students enroll in RELS 8960 Thesis Research (3 credits), to devote time to completing the capstone theses. 
  • Comprehensive Exam: A 3-hour written exam demonstrating general competence in the field of Religion, Politics, and Conflict. To be completed in the final semester of study.


Spring 2019 Course Offerings

*3000 and 4000 level courses can only be taken for MA credit with permission from the MA Director (Prof. Peter Furia this Spring) and from the course instructor. The course instructor will have to agree to assign additional reading/writing for graduate credit. Please take 5000 level courses or above whenever possible.

**All 7000 level courses and other departmental seminars are subject to approval by the instructor.

***Courses not listed here will be considered on a case-by-case basis with approval of the MA Director (Peter Furia this Spring).


AAS 3000       Women and Religion in Africa

AAS 3500       Intro to Caribbean Studies

AAS 3652       African American History Since 1865

AAS 3810       Race, Culture and Inequality                         


ANTH 5401      Linguistic Field Methods

ANTH 5480      Literacy and Orality

ANTH 5549      Endangered Languages

ANTH 5885      Archaeology of Colonial Expansions

ANTH 7020      Contemporary Anthropological Theory

ANTH 7370      Power and the Body

ANTH 7420      Theories of Language

ANTH 7480      Language and Prehistory

ANTH 7630      Chinese Family and Religion


ARAH 9595     Topics in Islamic Art   

ARTH 3591      Pagans and Christians

ARTH 3591      Conflict in Ancient Cultures


CHTR 5122      Sunzi and the Art of War

EAST 5321      China and the Cold War


ECON 3630      Economics of the Middle East


ENGL 5830      Contemporary Jewish Fiction


GETR 3372      German Jewish Culture and History

GETR 3390      Nazi Germany

GETR 3695      The Holocaust and the Law


GDS 3113        A Buddhist Approach to Development

GSGS 3111     Global Studies Epistemology, Methodology & Methods

GSGS 3115     Work, Women’s Work and Women Workers in South Asia

GSGS 3116     Social Movements and Development


HIEA 3321       China and the Cold War

HIEU 3152        History of the British Empire

HIEU 3231        Reformation Europe

HIEU 3372        German Jewish Culture and History

HIEU 3390        Nazi Germany

HIEU 3695        The Holocaust and the Law

HIEU 5063        Late Antiquity AD 235-410

HILA 3111       Public Life in Modern Latin America

HIME 3559       Tel Aviv

HISA 3003       Twentieth-Century South Asia

HIST 3162        War and Society in the Twentith Century

HIST 3452        The Second World War

HIUS 3072       The Civil War and Reconstruction

HIUS 3456       History of U.S. Foreign Relations since 1914

HIUS 3652       Afro-American History Since 1865

HIUS 7041       The Early American Republic, 1783-1830

HIUS 7261       American Political Development in Action

HIUS 7658       Nineteenth-Century American Social and Cultural History


MDST 3404      Democratic Politics in the New Media Environment

MDST 3420      Media and Power in Iran

MDST 3559      Propaganda & Digital Politics

MDST 3706      Media in China: Technology, Policy and Commerce

MDST 3760      #BlackTwitter and Black Digital Culture

MDST 3903      Media and Protest: The 1960s


ARTR 5290      Modern Arabic Literature in Translation

MESA 3110     Sustainable Environments Middle East and South Asia

MEST 3559      Tel Aviv

MEST 3559      Architecture in Israel

MEST 5559      History of Persian Literature

PETR 5559       Rumi

SATR 3000      Women Writing in India & Pakistan: 1947-Present


PHIL 5560        International Political Philosophy

PHIL 7560        Democracy in Decline?

PHIL 7770        Political Philosophy


PLAP 3140      Mass Media and American Politics

PLAP 3400      American Political Economy

PLAP 3500      Race and the Obama Presidency

PLAP 3500      Men, Women, and U.S. Politics

PLAP 3820      Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

PLCP 3500       Politics of the Holocaust

PLCP 8140       Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship

PLCP 8500       Civil Wars in Theory and Practice

PLIR 3310        Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics

PLIR 3610        European Union in World Affairs

PLIR 5500        Civil Wars in Theory & Practice

PLIR 5500        Analyzing US-China Relations

PLIR 5810        Asymmetry and International Relations

PLIR 7080        Military Force in International Relations

PLIR 7500        Approaches to Environmental Politics

PLPT 3020       Modern Political Thought

PLPT 3500       Liberal Theory and Its Critics

PLPT 8020       Problems of Political Philosophy

PLPT 8500       Freedom, Empire, Slavery


PSYC 5326      Neuroscience of Social Relationships

PSYC 7506      Contemporary Issues: Social Psychology


RELA 3000      Women and Religion in Africa

RELB 3495      Early Buddhism in South Asia

RELB 3655      Buddhism in America

RELC 3030      Jesus and the Gospels

RELC/J 3090    Israelite Prophecy

RELC 3115      Evangelicalism

RELC 3215      American Religious Innovation

RELC 3231      Reformation Europe

RELC 3625      Christ

RELC/J 3665    Gender and Sexuality in the Bible

RELC/J 5559    Histories and Fictions

RELG 3255      Ethics, Literature, and Religion

RELG 3559      Religion, Citizenship, Secular

RELG 3559      American Religion American War

RELG 3605      Religion, Violence, and Strategy (strongly recommended)

RELG 5070      Interpretation Theory

RELG 5170      Seminar in History of Religions

RELG 5321      Proseminar in Religion, Politics & Conflict (required)

RELG 5395      Religion and the Common Good

RELG 5485      History of American Religion and Social Reform

RELG 5559      Religion and Ecology

RELG 7460      Religion, Theory, Theology, and Modernity

RELH 3740      Hinduism Through Its Narrative Literatures

RELH 5450      Hind-Buddhist Debates

RELI 3120        Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

RELI 3559        Islamic Moral Philosophy

RELI 5540        Introduction to Islamic Studies

RELJ 3170       Modern Jewish Thought

RELJ 3372       German Jewish Culture and History

RELJ 5365       Herman Cohen and Modern Religious Thought

RELS 8500      Christ


SOC 3410        Race and Ethnic Relations

SOC 3480        Sociology of Globalization

SOC 3820        Social Movements

SOC 5060        Contemporary Sociological Theory

SOC 5080        Comparative Historical Sociological Theory

SOC 5100        Research Design and Methods


STAT 3250      Data Analysis with Python

STAT 5330      Data Mining

STAT 6130      Applied Miltivariate Statistics


WGS 3340       Transnational Feminism


Faculty Advisory Board

Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Religious Studies
Ferial Maya Boutaghou, French
Larry Bouchard, Religious Studies
Donald E. Brown, Director Data Science Institute; Systems and Information Engineering
Dorothy Fontaine, Dean of the School of Nursing
Beth Epstein, Nursing School
Elizabeth Fowler, English
Peter Furia, Politics, Global Studies
Robert P. Geraci, History
Victor Luftig, English
Earl Mark, Architecture
Shankar Nair, Religious Studies
Peter Ochs, Religious Studies
Vanessa Ochs, Religious Studies
John Owen, Politics
Philip Potter, Politics
Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Politics
Herman Schwartz, Politics
Milton Vickerman, Sociology
Barbra Mann Wall, Nursing School
Richard Westphal, Nursing School
Jerry White, Global Studies