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MSc Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism


The MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism is aimed at security professionals whose role involves developing and implementing strategies to address the threat of extremism, against public, corporate and critical targets. The course is also suitable for those wishing to make a career in these areas.

The course is delivered by experienced practitioners and researchers working in counter-terrorism, intelligence, law enforcement, risk assessment and security technology. Students also benefit from full access to UCL experts on a range of ethical, political, religious, and community issues.

Taught in central London, this integrated programme can be taken FULL-TIME (one year) or PART-TIME (normally over two or three years, but can be extended to five). Learning is also facilitated through access to secured online seminars, course materials and research articles.

UCL offers the students and their organisations an opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge needed to address a particular security-related project.


Students who graduate from the MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism programme will have acquired:

  • An overview of organised crime and terrorism
  • An understanding of the theory of risk analysis
  • An understanding of the techniques for gathering and analysis of intelligence for countering terrorism and organised crime
  • An understanding of factors influencing decision-making
  • An understanding of the counter-terrorism technology
  • An understanding of strategies for prevention, detection and disruption of terrorism activities 
  • An understanding of related legal, political, religious, social, and economic aspects.
  • An understanding of the subjects complementary to, but outside of, terrorism and organised crime, such as media communications.
  • An understanding of leadership and contingency planning
  • An understanding of techniques applicable to research and advanced scholarship

Full time students
Full time students will complete the MSc in one calendar year.

Modular/Flexible students
Part time students will complete the MSc in two calendar years.  Modular/Flexible students can take up to 5 years to complete the programme, although we would typically expect the course to be completed in three years.

Programme Structure
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of five core modules (75 credits), three optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).


  • Designing and Doing Research - PUBLGC31 (T1): This module addresses head-on the question of what it means be scientific about security and crime. In doing so, it tackles several contiguous queries: What is the logic of crime science? What are the key methods of crime science? What is involved in applied science and engineering in the context of crime and security? What are the warrants for the findings of crime science, compared to other ways of studying crime and security? How does a crime scientist go about designing and undertaking a scientific study? In answering these questions, the course objectives are 1) to help students understand the distinctiveness of a scientific approach to security, crime and crime control; 2) to enable them to discriminate good and bad scientific research questions; 3) to allow them to recognize and be able to formulate testable scientific hypotheses; 4) to ensure that they can critically assess scientific research designs; and 5) to equip them to devise a plausible design for a piece of research in crime and security science, leading ultimately to the formulation of their dissertation
    research project.
  • Quantitative Methods - PUBLGC32 (T1): The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how to visualize and analyze quantitative data. Relevant examples are used to show how the principles and methods can be used to test hypotheses concerned with crime. The aims of the course are two-fold. First, to develop students into intelligent consumers of research by explaining why researchers conduct studies in the way they do and what methods are appropriate for different kinds of data. And, second, during supported workshops, to provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning by analyzing real or simulated data. The course will provide students with practical skills that will help them to complete their dissertations.
  • Foundations of Security and Crime Science - PUBLGC42 (T1): The purpose of this module is to set out the foundational concepts, theories and approaches that underpin the masters programmes offered in the Department of Security and Crime Science. In this way the module provides an overarching framework for the modules that follow. It outlines the distinctive nature of the crime science approach to  understanding, preventing, detecting and investigating crime and security problems. It presents the key theories that explain the temporal and spatial patterning of crime and terrorism events, and introduces students to associated strategies for disrupting these patterns. The need for a multidisciplinary approach – especially the integration of the social and physical sciences - to address crime and security problems is emphasised, with the contributions of the forensic sciences and security technology highlighted.  Assessment: one exam.
  • Perspectives on Terrorism - PUBLGC47 (T2): This module provides students with an overview of terrorism, including empirical trends, historical manifestations, current groups and tactics, and prominent theories operating at various levels of analysis. While much of the course material and required readings draw from an array of disciplines traditionally concerned with the topic, such as public policy, criminology, sociology and psychology, the main purpose of the module is to introduce students to a more distinctive security and crime science perspective on the subject. Therefore, throughout the module, students are encouraged to adopt a critical yet open mind set, to reflect on the conceptual and methodological issues involved in studying terrorism as a concrete scientific problem, and to consider what this particular approach implies for the design of preventive or disruptive interventions and technologies against terrorism. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Perspectives on Organised Crime - PUBLGC44 (T1): The aim of this module is to provide students with an overview and understanding of the phenomenon of organised crime, by providing them with an outline of its history, various manifestations, broader issues of definition, practice and theory. The different ways in which organised crime manifests itself in different countries will be discussed. A number of special topics will also be examined, human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime, and the historical cases of the crime-terror nexus thus providing students with an up-to-date picture of the organised crime landscape and the pervasive influence of organised crime worldwide. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Security and Crime Science dissertation - PUBLGC99 (60 credits)


  • Globalisation and Security - GEOGG089 (T1): This module aims to develop a critical understanding of relationships between globalisationand security via an engagement with social theory and the exploration ofspecific case study areas. It uses social theories to consider how discourses and practices of security are shifting in response to concerns about globalization. Rather than starting with a study of security threats, it examines security itself as a significant factor in shaping how societies - and globalisation more generally - work.
  • Terrorism  - PUBLG009 (T1): Familiarises students with historical and theoretical descriptions of the decision made by non-state actors to employ terrorist violence, the nature of specific threats faced globally (both historically and in a contemporary setting), and a brief overview of the range of options available to governments looking to counter this threat. Students will be asked to complete a comprehensive set of readings, to participate actively in seminar discussions, and to complete a long paper assignment.
  • International peace and security in a changing world - PUBLG034: Introduces students to major themes and debates in the contemporarystudy of international peace, security and stability. The course willsurvey a range of traditional and contemporary approaches and topics, including literatures on interstate warfare, alliance formation, deterrence and compellence, weapons of mass destruction, civil war and ethnic conflict, failed states, international terrorism, humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping, and the relationship between development and security.
  • Qualitative methods (T2): The module introduces students to a variety of qualitative researchtechniques used in the social sciences.  It provides an understanding ofhow qualitative and quantitative methods can be used to complement eachother to enrich a research project.  The sessions cover theoretical considerations required in qualitative research and each week introduces the student to a different qualitative method or approach that can be used in crime science research.  Collectively, the sessions will enable students to construct qualitative research instruments appropriate to real-world research questions, analyse data in a scientific manner, and interpret findings appropriately. Assessment: one1500 word essay (30%) and one exam (70%).
  • Crime mapping and spatial analysis - PUBLGC26 (T2): This module will equip students with the theoretical and practical knowledge of geographical analytical tools applicable to the discipline of crime science. Using the SARA framework, this module will provide students with the opportunity to analyse real and simulated data to explore each part of the problem-solving process. Drawing on three computer packages (ArcGIS, Geoda and CrimeStatIII), this module will be invaluable to anyone intending to use spatial analysis in their dissertation or future applied work of this kind.  Assessment: two 2000 word essays (30% and 70%).
  • Investigation and detection - PUBLGC45 (T2): This module provides students with an understanding of the processes and actors operating throughout the course of a criminal investigation from the crime scene itself, to the collection and analysis of evidence, its interpretation and eventual presentation in a courtroom. The various stages of the investigation and detection processes will be examined, which will include: an introduction to crime scene management methods; the influence of various criminological theories about offender behaviorand how they relate to criminal investigations; knowledge concerningthe production of intelligence and evidence by forensic science; an understanding of the influence of the law and the courts. Students will interact with a number of different professionals and disciplines that contribute to the detection and investigation process. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.
  • Intelligence gathering and analysis - PUBLGC46 (T2): Provides an account of how intelligence gathering and analysis is organised in the UK. We will examine the intelligence life-cycle in some detail from the identification of an intelligence requirement through to the actions consequent on an intelligence report. Students will also become familiar with graphical and computer-based techniques for organising, analysing and presenting complex heterogeneous data. Assessment: assignment and exam.
  • Risk and contingency planning - PUBLGC49 (T1): This course introduces students to a range of frameworks and quantitative techniques used by systems engineers and risk experts to analyse security threats and systems vulnerabilities. At the end of this course, students should have developed the knowledge needed to critically discuss different approaches to risk and resilience assessment.
  • Prevention and disruption - PUBLGC48 (T2): This will focus on methods of preventing and disrupting terrorism and organised crime. Four major strategies are considered.The first comprises attempts to address the ideologies and belief systems; the second comprises efforts to anticipate and prevent organised crimes and terrorist acts of various kinds; the third comprises enforcement means used to disrupt, disable or suppress the activities of organised criminals and terrorist networks and the fourth comprises efforts to remove the economic basis for terrorist activities by attacking organised crime.


Applicants for admission should have, or expect to obtain before entry, a good Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (for example criminology, psychology, sociology, law, geography or hard science) equivalent to an lower second class-degree at a UK university or five years or more relevant professional experience.

Candidates whose degree class falls below 2:2 but who have at least five years experience are also eligible. In exceptional circumstances, students who do not fulfil these requirements may be considered.

Those with limited mathematics/statistics in their qualifications may find this course difficult. It is also recommended that students wishing to take elective modules possess a basic familiarity with the subject matter. 

Proficiency in the use of spoken and written English is required. Students whose first language is not English will need to meet the College's English language requirement.

All applications are made online at the following link:

MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism

  Full time (2015-2016)
Home/EU £10,765
Overseas £22,350

(*Please note there is an Application Processing Fee for all Postgraduate Taught programmes of £50 for online applications and £75 for paper applications.)

For those taking the programme over two or more years, you will be charged according to the number of credits you take that year, therefore the annual cost will vary according to your study load. However, the overall fee will be approximately the same as the full time fee, with a slight increase to allow for annual inflation:

A 15 credit component (equivalent to one taught module) corresponds to approximately £871 for home/EU students and £1808 for overseas students. The research project is 60 credits.

Fees are paid on an annual basis.


For 2015-2016 entry the Department of Security & Crime Science will offer up to 14 bursary scholarships of between £2,500 and £10,000 (most awards are £2,500) to outstanding applicants who have been offered places on one of our MSc programmes.

If you would like to be considered for one of these scholarships when you apply, please complete the Funding section of your online application with the following details:

  • In the Other column please write the following: "Department of Security & Crime Science Bursary Scholarship"

The deadline for consideration is 30th April 2015.
You must ensure that your online application is complete by this date. This includes making sure that your referees have submitted their references by this date, as UCL Admissions do not consider an application to be complete until this has happened. The Department of Security & Crime Science will not be able to make any exceptions.

All applications will be considered after the deadline and we aim to inform applicants of our decision by mid-June 2015. You will hear from us directly via email - this communication is entirely separate from any communications you receive from UCL Admissions and your offer letter for a place on the programme will not state whether or not you have been awarded a bursary.

Please be aware that competition for these bursary scholarships is fierce and we recommend that all applicants investigate other sources of funding. The UCL website has a section on graduate funding and scholarships, however we as a department are unable to help unsuccessful applicants to find alternative funding.

Other scholarships:

One-off Postgraduate scholarships from HECFE and UCL for 2015

UCL has been awarded around 340 bursaries of £10,000 each as part of the HEFCE 2015 postgraduate support scheme. The aim of this scheme is to encourage students from under-represented groups to embark on a postgraduate qualification. This is a one-off opportunity for UK/EU students graduating in summer 2015, having been charged the higher rate of tuition fees starting in 2012/13, and applying to study a postgraduate taught programme starting in September 2015. To be eligible to apply for an award, candidates must meet all the eligibility criteria and apply by the deadline of 29 March 2015. A full list of eligibility criteria, as well as application materials and more information, can be found on the UCL Scholarships and Funding website. Postgrad Solutions bursaries worth £500

Other UCL scholarships

Page last modified on 14 oct 10 09:24