Find a course


International Security

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2022 / September 2023



Course length

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

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


Specialise in an important aspect of world politics with our MA in International Security.

During the course, you will cover both:

  • the traditional focus on the security of states and
  • more contemporary debates centred on ‘human security’ in a variety of contexts.

You will be encouraged to think beyond ‘bullets and bombs’. And to consider a range of practices that contribute to our understandings of security and insecurity. 

As a postgraduate programme, the integration between research and teaching is a crucial part of the quality of the experience. So the course also provides a sound grounding in relevant research methods.

You will benefit from links with International NGOs, many of which are based in Oxford. These include Oxfam and Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID).

On graduating you will be well-suited to a variety of careers in:

  • government
  • non-governmental organisations
  • charity organisations
  • civil service
  • international organisations
  • law
  • trade unions.
Female student studying in quiet space

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Students are normally required to have at least a second-class honours degree from a university in the UK or an equivalent qualification from countries outside the UK. The degree should be in an appropriate discipline.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£7,850 (Masters); £6,850 (Diploma); £3,925(Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£7,850 (Masters); £6,850 (Diploma); £3,925(Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

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.

Financial support and scholarships

There is a course scholarship available for MA International Security for 2022. The application deadline is Monday 6 June 2022.

There are also International Student Scholarships available for 2022 and other scholarships and funding options for postgraduate international students.

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

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, if any, are detailed below.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements

Learning and assessment

Students studying for the MA/PG Dip in International Security are required to complete:

  • two compulsory modules during Semester 1
  • three elective modules in Semester 2.

MA students are required to complete a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic related to any aspect of international relations. The dissertation also involves a presentation at the Annual Postgraduate Day which is held every summer.

Students taking the Postgraduate Certificate are required to complete 'International Relations in Theory and Practice', 'Global Political Economy' and one optional module from the list below.

Group of students leaving a lecture

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

Security: Beyond Bullets and Bombs (40 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.

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.


The Global Ecological Crisis (20 credits)

You’ll take part in a critical, interdisciplinary investigation into how tensions caused by the ecological crisis have been addressed globally. You'll examine institutional, conceptual, ideological and socio-cultural factors, as well as political and economic facets.

Capitalism: Crisis and World Order (20 credits)

In this module you’ll look at the emergence and changing nature of the global political economy. You’ll start by understanding the historical progression of capitalism to the development of the current global order. You’ll then explore the global order through factors such as the nature of state power, labour relations, production and trade, the role of finance and the impact of capitalism on the environment.

Global Civil Society and Social Movements (20 credits)

What kind of role can civil society play in global politics? This module investigates that question, while concentrating on understanding ‘globalisation from below’. You’ll study key conceptual and theoretical debates about global civil society and global citizenship. You’ll explore the possibility of post-national forms of citizenship. Case studies will help you address the question of how global civil society can democratise global politics.

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.

Postcolonial Perspectives: Security, Violence and Resistance (20 credits)

You’ll explore questions of security, violence and resistance from a postcolonial perspective. You’ll look at how phenomena such as terrorism, migration, violent conflict and racism can be understood differently when viewed in the context of past colonial actions. You’ll also investigate whether contemporary notions such as ‘Islamic extremism’ or the ‘oppressed Muslim woman’ are used to elevate Western societies to a status of cultural and political superiority – and what consequences this leads to.

Refugees: Forced Migration, Protection and Humanitarianism (20 credits)

This module considers how migration is both a central part of the human experience in the twenty-first century and a key challenge to humanitarian practitioners.

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 that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

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.

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.


Assessment methods used on this course

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.


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

After you graduate

Career prospects

The programme will appeal to students who have a broad interest in international affairs, and to those whose future work is likely to involve the public sphere in an international and global context. It is relevant to careers in media and general management, as well as in the civil service, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations. It will also appeal to those wanting to progress to a research degree.

The range of topics is impressive and seems to cover the key problems that confront governments, politicians and international policy-makers: the environment, global governance, the role of global civil society, migration, international finance and terrorism

Tricia Feeney (Executive Director, Rights & Accountability in Development).

Our Staff

Dr 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

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.

Back to top