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Security Studies - MSc

Course Description

Contemporary security research and policy-making focus heavily on the causes and consequences of violent and non-violent political conflict. This MSc trains students to apply empirical methods to explore the causes of terrorism, civil, and international conflict, the application of military force, humanitarian intervention, and the provision of global public goods.

Degree information

Students develop an understanding of theoretical approaches and debates in security studies, and the ability to analyse how forms of violent and non-violent political conflict emerge, diffuse, are managed, and are resolved. They gain the qualitative and quantitative research skills required to collect and analyse empirical evidence in a selective and systematic way.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (60 credits), optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules
-International Peace and Security (30)
-Introduction to Qualitative Methods or Advanced Qualitative Methods (15)
-Introduction to Quantitative Methods or Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)

Optional modules - choose two of the following 15-credit modules (the others remain available as options):
-Rebellion (15)
-Conflict Resolution and Post-War Development (15)
-Governing Divided Societies (15)
-Terrorism (15)
-War, Peace, Human Rights and International Law (15)
-Foreign Policy Analysis (15)

Choose further modules up to a value of 30 credits. The following are suggestions:
-Globalisation (15)
-International Political Economy (15)
-The Political Economy of Development (15)
-International Trade Policy (15)
-Global Ethics (15)
-Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account (15)

All MSc students undertake an individual research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars, and is taught by scholars who have subject-specific knowledge and have carried out theoretical and empirical research in the field. Students will be assessed by a variety of methods: unseen examinations, long essays and the dissertation.


Graduates of the programme are ideally placed to develop careers in the field of international relations, public policy and political analysis. Many graduates go on to further research study at UCL or other universities in the UK or overseas.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Anti Money Laundering Analyst, Citibank
-Global Security Intern, Monsanto
-Research Analyst, Guidepoint Global
-Policy Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
-Data Analyst, Thomson

The Security Studies MSc is designed with the intention of endowing students with an advanced set of methodological skills that enable them to collect and analyse real-world data to test theoretically-informed hypotheses about the sources, impacts, and resolution of various forms of non-violent and violent political conflict. These analytical skills have enabled prior students to gain employment across the sectors, including positions on the civil service fast stream, at private sector political risk firms and banks, and in niche area NGOs and charitable organisations helping to tackle poverty and unrest at home and abroad.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of all fields of politics.

Students benefit from weekly seminars featuring distinguished external speakers, and regular high-profile events for policymakers and others.

The research preparation and tailor-made interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training students receive is one of the highest available in the world, in one of the world's top universities, as reflected in its performance in a range of rankings and tables.

Visit the Security Studies - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

UCL Graduate Support Bursary - 20+ Awards

UCL is making 93 individual bursary awards available. Each bursary will cover the full tuition fee cost for the programme and provide £10,000 in maintenance funding per year.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The scheme is aimed at supporting traditionally under-represented groups to progress on to graduate study at UCL. All applicants will be required to demonstrate that their annual household income is currently under £42,611. This scheme is open to prospective students domiciled in the UK (that is, UK is your country of "ordinary residence”) who have "Home" tuition fee status.

Application Procedure

This initiative is funded through the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme. The UCL Graduate Support Bursary scheme forms part of UCL’s wider initiative to support graduate Master’s students.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

As a minimum, a strong upper second-class (65%) Bachelor's degree from a UK university; a 3.33 GPA; or an equivalent international qualification is required. Relevant practical or work experience in a related field may also be taken into account.

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