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Security Studies MSc

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.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£12,570 (FT) £6,225 (PT)
£20,540 (FT) £10,430 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

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 in total from a list available at:
  • www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/teaching/masters/msc-in-security-studies
  • 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.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Security Studies MSc


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


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.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

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.

Department: Political Science

Student / staff numbers › 39 staff including 1 postdocs › 442 taught students › 37 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Political Science
76% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme is suitable for students who wish to specialise in security studies for a career and/or further research in the fields of international relations, public policy and political analysis. Applicants should ideally have a background in economics, European issues, international relations, law, philosophy, politics, political science or sociology.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 July 2017

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Security Studies at graduate level
  • why you want to study Security Studies at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging and truly international academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Contact information

Page last modified on 27 October 2016 at 11:10 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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