International Security

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: MA: 12 months; PGDip: 9 months; PGCert: 9 months

Part time: MA: 24 months; PGDip: 18 months; PGCert: 18 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Law and Social Sciences

Find a course



Think beyond bullets and bombs. On our international security postgraduate course, you’ll consider what “human security” means in different parts of the world, along with how nations have traditionally protected themselves.

You’ll have opportunities to research topics like post-Cold War wealth inequality, the changing nature of global capitalism, and political, social and cultural reactions to the climate crisis. You’ll also look at examples of peace processes and post-war societies, and analyse the causes of violence in peacebuilding contexts.

We’ll encourage and help you to follow your political, social, and voluntary interests, as these will be a big part of your independent study. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to use your knowledge in intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations (IGOs and NGOs).

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

International Security, MA/PGDip/PGCert degree course student studying in a quiet space at Oxford Brookes University

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Modern politics central

    With active discussions on colonialism and refugee action, Oxford is a city at the centre of contemporary political debate.

  • Intimate classes

    You’ll be taught in small classes, always getting the attention and support you need. Your tutors are active researchers in their fields of study, and they’ll share their expertise with you.

  • Easy to join

    You can study this course without any prior knowledge from a relevant undergraduate programme.

  • Study trips

    You’ll enhance your learning by visiting key landmarks – previous trips have included The Hague and the European Parliament.

  • Lively assessments

    It’s not just essays – you’ll be assessed through NGO briefings, peace negotiation simulations, and other creative activities.

Course details

Course structure

We’ll introduce you to the major debates in international security. By considering research methods, you’ll learn to produce evidence and critically review research. You’ll learn about documentary research, interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis, surveys, questionnaires and quantitative methods.

In your optional modules, you can cover topics like Violence and Peacebuilding, Critical Approaches to Terrorism, and Ukraine: Revolution, War and Global Politics.

For your dissertation, you’ll research a topic of your choice. This is your chance to explore and expand on something that matches your political, social, or voluntary interests. You’ll present your research proposal during a postgraduate day in May or June to peers and staff. This means you’ll receive critical feedback from a wider audience.

Group of International Security, MA/PGDip/PGCert students leaving a lecture at Oxford Brookes University

Learning and teaching

Research is fundamental to the International Relations programme. You will be taught by a team of research-active scholars who are all specialists and publish in their areas of expertise. We include aspects of our research in all our courses, teach optional modules in our areas of expertise and supervise dissertations in our specialist subjects

Our teaching methods include:

  • lectures
  • tutor/group-led seminars
  • case study analysis
  • group work presentations
  • individual presentations
  • individual and small group tutorials.


Assessment is conducted through a variety of assignments linked to the expected learning outcomes. You will be assessed with the following methods:

  • essays
  • presentations
  • projects
  • reports
  • written dissertation.

You will receive constant feedback over the course of the year.

Field Trips

This course includes a four-day study trip to Brussels and The Hague, just before the start of Semester 2 (in late January).

You'll start your trip with visits to key institutions of the European Union. You will then move on to The Hague and visit a range of international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The trip gives you first-hand experience of how these important international institutions work.

The cost of travel and accommodation for the trip is included in your course fees.

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Exploring Security Studies (20 credits)

    This module gives you a rich introduction to the major theoretical debates in the field of International Relations, looking beyond ‘bullets and bombs’ to the range of practices that contribute to different forms, practices and understandings of security and insecurity.

  • Advanced Research in International Relations (20 credits)

    You’ll examine the main approaches to the study of International Relations. You’ll consider a variety of relevant research methods so that you can understand how evidence is produced and critically appraise the research you use. You’ll discuss documentary research, interviews and focus groups, discourse analysis, surveys and questionnaires, and quantitative methods.

  • International Relations in Theory and Practice (20 credits)

    In this module you’ll explore advanced investigation into a diverse range theoretical approaches in International Relations and link them to contemporary issues. Through the module you’ll cover topics like;
    • the role of the state
    • security and insecurity
    • international order and disorder
    • democracy and global governance
    • global development, justice and sustainability
    • the legacies of colonialism
    • race, class and gender.
    You will establish a clear understanding of the role and purpose of theory, and its relation to substantive issues in international relations.

Optional modules

International Development (20 credits)

Since the end of the Cold War one of the key dynamics in world politics – the gap between rich and poor – has come into sharper focus. In this module, you’ll examine both the theory and practice of the international politics of development. 

You’ll start by looking at key theoretical debates and how these have related to practice. You’ll go on to explore contemporary issues in development that illustrate the theoretical debates, such as fair trade and sustainable development.


International Migration and Borders (20 credits)

Why do people move? Why is their movement restricted? And how are forms of migration control changing through the shifting use of borders?

In an age in which movement across international borders – of capital, goods, information and technology – is increasingly central to life across the globe, the movement of people is subject to more restriction than ever.

This module will introduce you to the current critical debates in International Relations and Security Studies around migration and borders. This will include a focus on unequal relationships of race, class and gender and how these are reproduced through categories of ‘forced’ and ‘unforced migration’, the continuing effects of colonialism, and the diffusion of bordering practices into local spaces of everyday life.

Sustainability, Social Justice and Global Politics (20 credits)

Humans dominate Earth, over-exploiting resources and causing global ecological crises such as biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. This age has also seen a widening gap between the extremes of global poverty and wealth, sparking social injustice and ecological breakdown. How do we make sense of these interlinked crises?

In this module, explore the global quest for sustainability and social justice. Take a critical, interdisciplinary investigation into the global ecological crisis and its global social impacts, reflect on the global ecological crisis through political theory and aspects like race, class and gender, and examine the ways sustainability and social justice have been addressed.

You’ll investigate questions of security, the global political economy of sustainability and sustainable development, and dynamics of global environmental governance and resistance to understand the causes of interlinked social and ecological crises and how we might resolve these.

Ukraine: Revolution, War and Global Politics (20 credits)

In this module you’ll focus on the politics of Ukraine; its context in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the complex politics of the post-Soviet order and its relations with Russia and global geopolitics. You’ll take a historical approach to the topics covered to understand how the Ukrainian state and Ukrainian politics have evolved over time. Explore the political, social and economical factors of the Ukrainian state and through critical analysis of its history you’ll develop an advanced understanding of international relations and the nature of war in the 21st Century.

Violence and Peacebuilding (20 credits)

In transitions from civil war to peace, why does violence often continue, even when ceasefires are in place? How does violence affect peace processes, and how can continuing insecurity be managed? 

In this module, you’ll explore concepts of violence, peace and peacebuilding, as well as studying examples from peace processes and post-war societies, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Rwanda, South Africa and Northern Ireland. You’ll be assisted to critically analyse the causes of violence in the context of peacebuilding and to make recommendations for its management.


Dilemmas of International Ethics (20 credits)

You’ll survey the main traditions of international ethics and apply them to important ethical dilemmas in contemporary world politics – including humanitarian intervention, global economic inequality, environmental justice, nuclear proliferation and disarmament.

Critical Approaches to Terrorism (20 credits)

You’ll critically consider debates about how we define and understand terrorism, as well as thinking about the nature of the threat that terrorism poses. You’ll also explore causes of terrorism and the gender politics of terrorism. We’ll encourage you to take a critical approach and try to think beyond mainstream and conventional answers to some of these issues.

Independent Study (20 credits)

This is your chance to undertake a programme of study that you choose yourself, in consultation with a member of staff. Previous examples of independent study have focussed on:

  • International Energy Security
  • Oil and the Global Economy
  • Human Rights and Foreign Direct Investment.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

    The dissertation is an extended, supervised piece of work on a topic that you choose yourself, ideally related to your professional, voluntary, political or research interests. Examples of dissertation areas would include:

    • a case study of a particular policy initiative
    • an analysis of alternative approaches to a particular policy problem
    • a systematic review and analysis of published evidence on a particular topic
    • an empirical study using methods such as a survey, interviews or observation.

    You’ll present your dissertation topic and proposal to your peers and staff members at a Postgraduate Day in June. This is a valuable chance to receive feedback from a wider audience.


Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


Our vibrant research culture is driven by a thriving and collaborative community of academic staff and doctoral students. from across the globe.

83% of International Relations and Politics research was recognised internationally, and rated as either excellent or world leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Our research is organised within the Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society.

Within the Centre we run four dedicated research groups:

  • Critical Security Studies
  • International Political Theory
  • Cultures and Identities
  • State and Society.

As well as meeting to discuss and analyse central texts in the field each group undertakes a number of activities including:

  • organising work-in-progress seminars
  • offering support and feedback for external grant applications
  • hosting visiting fellows
  • sponsoring seminars and symposia.

Find out more by visiting our web pages and browsing our staff profiles.

Female student working in library


By completing this course, you’ll have gained sought-after, transferable skills such as project management, critical analysis, problem-solving, and communication. You’ll have a working knowledge of international security useful for a career in media and general management, IGOs and NGOs.

Our graduates now have roles including:

  • Research Analyst at Africa Risk Consulting
  • Senior Consultant at the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency
  • Communications Officer at Save the Children
  • Parliamentary Assistant to a Westminster MP
  • Commercial Manager in the net zero energy sector.

You may also want to progress further in academia or research, and you’ll be in a good position to do so.

Our Staff

Professor Michael Lister

Read more about Michael

Dr Tina Managhan

Tina Managhan is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations. She completed her PhD at York University in Toronto, Canada. She has research interests in critical security studies, international relations theory and feminist and postcolonial theory.

Read more about Tina

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,350; Diploma £8,350; Certificate £4,675

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,950; Diploma £8,950; Certificate £4,975

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,350; Diploma £8,350; Certificate £4,675

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,950; Diploma £8,950; Certificate £4,975

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences believes strongly in the importance of making a difference to the world of our students, and in the ability and potential of our students to make a difference in the world. The Dean's Scholarship is one small way in which we make that belief tangible. 

International students can apply for our International Students Scholarship. Please click on the link below to find out more.


All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.