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PhD study

General Information about PhD study

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) enables a student with a particular interest to carry out independent, original research culminating in a thesis.  The application coordinator for the PhD programme is Dr SungYong Lee. Please direct all enquiries to

Requirements for a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies

This programme is usually completed within three years. A PhD thesis should not exceed 100,000 words and must be a thorough, comprehensive and original study of a topic or issue which makes a significant contribution to the knowledge of the particular field.

Eligibility for the PhD programme

Prospective candidates must have completed either:

  • a four‐year Arts degree with a substantial research component (equivalent to an Honours dissertation at Otago), and must have achieved at least an upper second class Honours (75% plus) for their fourth year of study; or
  • an accredited Masters programme with an appropriate research component.

Acceptance as a candidate for the PhD degree depends upon the University being able to provide adequate expert supervision in the intended area of research.

How to apply for the PhD programme

Acceptance to the PhD programme is highly competitive and we unfortunately have to turn down many well-qualified candidates.

The NCPCS accepts applications throughout the year: there is no formal deadline for applications.

Before making a formal application, we strongly recommend that prospective students first contact the Centre in order for us to evaluate your proposal and academic records and to determine our capacity to supervise your particular project. After this assessment (which can take up to two months), we may encourage you to make a formal application for admission to the PhD programme.

We consider the following criteria when making an internal assessment:

  • Academic standard: Prospective students must meet the highest academic standards. A first class Honours degree or Masters degree including a significant research component is required; research publications (peer-reviewed articles in academic journals or book-chapters) are desirable.
  • The project proposal must fit well with our research profile and appears manageable and feasible within a three-year time frame and given financial and other constraints.
  • The project must be likely to generate high-quality, publishable work in peer-reviewed journals.
  • A Masters degree with a focus on peace and conflict studies is highly desirable.
  • Our research problematique is peace and conflict issues; and our geographic focus is primarily global or on the Pacific-East Asia region.

The Centre affirms the centrality of Te Tiriti O Waitangi as the basis for harmonious relations within Aotearoa-New Zealand and we welcome peace and conflict research that explores these and related issues.

In order for us to make our internal assessment, we need three things from the applicant:

  1. Full academic transcripts which include evidence of a significant research component and / or list research publications (see above)
  2. A curriculum vitae which includes publications, at least one reference letter and the contact details of referees (a minimum of two)
  3. A preliminary research proposal (about 5 pages) which identifies the contribution of the project to the discourse, a description of its theoretical framework, research design, methodology and time plan.

With this information, we can assess the likelihood of scholarship funding and the ability of the Centre to provide adequate supervision for the project.  The candidate may be invited to a Skype interview as part of the selection process.  If an applicant is successful in this internal screening process, he / she may then proceed with a formal application.

Please forward all these documents as attachments in one email to

Dr SungYong Lee
Director of Research

PhD theses completed in the Centre

Rivers of Peace: Third Party Conflict Management of Transboundary River Disputes (2013), Elvira Bobekova

How does Truth-Telling Heal? An Exploration of Voice and Pathways toward Victim Healing in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste (2014), Holly Guthrey

Understanding effectiveness in peacekeeping operations: Exploring the perspectives of frontline peacekeepers (2014), Ellen Furnari

Tracing the Discursive Origins of the War on Terror: President Clinton and the Construction of New Terrorism in the Post-Cold War Era (2014), Chin-Kuei Tsui

Third-Party Coordination in Conflict Resolution: Views from Third-Party Practitioners in the Maoist Armed Conflict of Nepal and the Moro Conflict of the Philippines (2014), Prakash Bhattarai

Discourse transformation in peace processes: Revisiting Sudan's 2005 comprehensive agreement (2014), Patrick Mbugua

El camino se hace caminando: Using Participatory Action Research to evaluate and develop Peace Education practice in a Secondary School in Northern Nicaragua (2015)
Heather Kertyzia

Human Spirituality and coming together in peace, looking together through two lenses (Maori and Sahaj Marg Raga Yoga) (2015) Janine Joyce

Access to Justice in the Wake of War, Rule of Law Programming and Customary Justice in Post-conflict Bougainville (2016) Naomi Johnstone

“Instruments of Peace?” Franciscans as Peacemakers in Sri Lanka During and After the Civil War (2016) Christopher John Masters

Civil Society Activists in a Protracted Conflict: Explaining Differences in Motivation to Engage in Intergroup Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland (2017) Rachel Rafferty

War, Identity, and Inherited Responsibility in Sino-Japanese Relations (2017) Ria Shibata

Owning Peace: Assessing the Impact of Local Ownership of Police Reforms on Post-conflict Peace (2017) John Gray

The Theory and Practice of Emancipatory Counterterrorism (2017) Sondre Lindahl

Fanohge Famalåo’an & Fan’tachu Fama’lauan: Women Rising Indigenous Resistance to Militarization in the Marianas Archipelago (2017) Sylvia Frain

Further information

More information about PhD study at the University of Otago.

PhD Handbook for the University of Otago

Research thesis advice and support from the Central Library