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International Security MSc

Course Description

There is a growing number of new threats in international security, ranging from civil war, terrorism and transnational crime to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

This programme provides students with a theoretical and empirical understanding of the international security environment of the post-Cold War era, including the origins of conflicts and peace, the emergence of new security threats and the many different agencies involved in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacemaking today.

The MSc aims to be empirically relevant by teaching students how to apply theoretical concepts to contemporary conflicts and current affairs.

Programme structure

The MSc programme comprises six 12-week taught units and six assessed essays, followed by a dissertation.

Core units
-International Security
-Security Governance
-Theories of Securitisation

Optional units - You will choose no more than three optional units from the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). Units can vary from year to year but may include:
-Conflict, Security and Development
-Gender and Development
-Managing and Evaluating Development
-Development Skills in Practice
-Environmental Politics
-Masculinities and IR
-Foreign Policy Analysis
-Military and Militarisation
-US Security Policy
-International Human Rights
-Sino-US relations in global politics
-Politics of Genocide
-Japan and East Asia
-East Asia, Europe and Global Integration
-Care, Labour and Gender: International Policy Development
-China's International Relations
-European Security
-The Politics of Insecurity
-Theories of Violence

A list of possible units is available on the SPAIS website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/spais/prospective/prospectivepgt/msc-unit-guides/

Third term
Independent study for dissertation.


Bristol graduates are in high demand and have an excellent record of employment following graduation. Students of our MSc programmes go on to pursue varied and interesting careers.

Many sectors - such as the civil service, NGOs and charity work - require an MSc and some volunteer/internship experience. Graduates from our programmes have gone on to work for Refugee UK, Shelter, Barnardos, Oxfam, Amnesty International, government departments and the European Parliament, among others.

Visit the International Security MSc page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Max (UK)

305.jpg During my time at the University of Bristol I experienced a challenging and exciting course coupled with a varied and enjoyable social life. In a progressive Politics Department I found all the staff to be helpful and encouraging throughout my studies. The seminars provoked great debate and I enjoyed my classes immensely. The teaching was of the highest standard, as were the resources available to me. The experience of oral presentations in classes was extremely useful in bringing about a better understanding of the key issues and concepts. It was also a great opportunity to discuss, interact and argue with fellow classmates over various ideas and perspectives. The strength of the seminars was based on the small class sizes and the individual attention from the lecturers, something which only added to the stimulating academic experience. The core subjects in the first semester were excellent in their quality, purpose and structure, clearly highlighting the key concepts and theories of the Masters, while the choice subjects in the second semester were equally as good. These modules allowed me to investigate and explore my own personal interests and proved very useful in preparation for my dissertation. The range and depth of the course was brilliant and as a result I have developed a far better understanding of the realities of the world that exists today. I have left the Department of Politics with a greater confidence in my abilities, most significantly; in debate and in my written skills. However, most importantly, I have left the University with a number of great friends.

(Student Profile)

Rehman (Canada)

306.jpg This past year at Bristol was the best of my academic career, and my most memorable year overseas to date. I found the staff to be very enthusiastic, and the department as a whole was very supportive and attentive to student needs, especially international students. The programme attracts students from all over the world and from diverse academic backgrounds, making for very engaging and sometimes impassioned discussions in seminars.

Since graduating, I returned to Canada and completed a six-month internship with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation. More recently, I have been offered a fellowship in International Development Management with Aga Khan Foundation Canada, and will be working in Central Asia for the next year.

(Student Profile)

Kareem (Canada)

308.jpg The apprehensiveness I felt arriving in Bristol a week after classes began did not last long. The teachers and students were very welcoming and the small class sizes created a warm, comfortable and engaging atmosphere. All the classes I took were enjoyable and informative. In particular, the theoretical lenses obtained from Jutta Weldes’ class Theories of International Relations provided me with many new perspectives for interpreting world events and sparked my continuing interest in theory. In addition to the academic advantages Bristol provided, I have gained many great friends.

Upon completing my thesis I did an internship with the International Finance Corporation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I now find myself back in Canada working for the International Association of Science and Technology for Development and plan to commence an MSc in Finance in September. My interest in finance stems largely from my dissertation which examined the relationship between oil and security. I am hoping to develop this interest by focusing on risk analysis in the energy sector.

(Student Profile)

Jeff (USA)

318.jpg After graduating from Bristol's Politics Department with an MSc in International Security I spent some time looking for work and within a few months I had moved to London to do an internship with Labour Middle East Council (LMEC). LMEC concentrates on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict where it lobbies the UKgovernment to increase awareness about the Palestinians. I researched issues on the conflict, worked on membership and fundraising issues, best of all, got to hang out in Parliament (including getting to spend time in the various pubs in Westminster Palace!!). While I would have loved to stay at LMEC it didn't pay, so I've moved on to Corporate Executive Board (CEB) where I am getting my feet wet with business issues as a Research Associate doing short answer research. Best of all, one of my friends from the Politics IR MSc sits right across from me at CEB! It's been quite a time, but I really miss be in class at Bristol...I long for the life of debating political issues for an hour!!


Entry Requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent qualification). Degrees from all disciplines are considered.

Last Updated

19 September 2016

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