Taught course

Risk, Security and Politics

Durham University · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

A second class degree (2:1).

Band E English language requirements (see here for details.)

Application to the MA Risk, Security and Politics requires:

  • Transcripts of your qualifications
  • English language test certificates if taken
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal)
  • Two satisfactory references (unless you wish to supply referee details so we can contact them for you)
  • Scholarship documentation (if applying)

Months of entry


Course content

Our MA in Risk, Security and Politics is for anyone interested in a social science approach to risk, focusing on social policy, politics and security.

The programme is relevant and accessible to anyone from a social science background, including Geography, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. We will also consider applications from students from other specialisms.

Employment opportunities

Employers of our Risk Masters students are interested in hiring professionals with an interdisciplinary and broad understanding of risk, shaped through a conceptually strong understanding of the links between risk, security and politics.

Our MA in Risk, Security and Politics equips you with the skills needed to engage within employment sectors where managing uncertainty is crucial for success. Sectors such as:

  • Security and politics
  • Insurance
  • Social enterprise
  • Emergency response
  • Technology
  • Policy-making
  • Public services, humanitarian and resilience organisations.

What is the programme about?

Understanding and managing risk is ultimately about choice. Our entire society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about how risk is perceived, interpreted, balanced, and mitigated.

This programme explores concepts of risk and resilience, pointing to their political implications. It evaluates how uncertainty plays a critical role in the contemporary making of society and uncovers risk as a political technique for governing populations.

The MA gives you an understanding of risk as an abstraction through which uncertainty is managed and the future secured. You will examine the relationship between risk, knowledge, and politics and learn about the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the social dimensions of risk under conditions of uncertainty.

The MA in Risk, Security and Politics emphasises social science approaches to governing risk, training you to think critically about framing the politics of security, risk and resilience.

As part of the suite of Taught Postgraduate Geography Programmes at Durham University, you will benefit from interdisciplinary teaching that introduces physical and social science approaches to risk. This MA enables you to explore the social dimensions of risk and resilience, especially how questions of security intersect.

Skills and knowledge

Our Risk, Security and Politics MA equips you with advanced skills in the critical analysis of risk as a governmental approach to a range of global challenges, including climate change, displacement, disasters, geopolitics, security and terrorism.

You will develop a thorough grounding in theoretical and practical approaches to identifying, understanding, framing, assessing and managing risk, as well as the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate risk.

Study Risk, Security and Politics through an interdisciplinary framework

Our Department of Geography teaches the core programme modules, and you will receive specialised training in cutting-edge theories, concepts and methods in security, politics and risk.

As an MA in Risk, Security & Politics student, you will choose electives from other Geography Taught Masters modules, the School of Government and International Affairs and the Department of Sociology. This interdisciplinarity creates opportunities for employment for further study after the MA.

We also collaborate closely with Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), enabling you to gain exposure to practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice. IHRR hosts an annual seminar series tailored to students on our climate risk postgraduate programmes providing opportunities to further expand your knowledge.

Develop expertise in Risk, Security and Politics through a Dissertation by Research or a Vocational Dissertation

Independent research is a cornerstone of the Risk, Security and Politics MA programme. You will receive training in research methods and design to support this process.

Research dissertations offer you the opportunity to develop and execute original independent research projects, supported by one-on-one tutorials and supervision by staff.

Vocational dissertations combine practical collaborations or placements with external organisations with original problem-oriented research. We organise vocational dissertation partnerships through our large and growing partner and alumni network and offer students the opportunity to work directly with practitioners on problem-oriented research.

We support students to develop vocational research collaborations. Whether undertaking a dissertation by research or a vocational dissertation, we encourage students to consider projects over a broad range of topics exploring geographical approaches to risk. Past dissertations have examined:

  • Perceptions of risk on British railways
  • Intersections of migration, security and geopolitics
  • Risk-based approaches to social inequality
  • The use of biometric technology in refugee governance
  • No-fly and blacklisting in transportation security
  • Urban government resilience policies
  • And intersections of racial, ethnic and economic inequality with health and other risks.

Whether you choose a dissertation by research or a vocational dissertation, you will be expected to demonstrate that you can combine your general training in risk with the understanding of the substance and method associated with your chosen area of research.

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
£12,900 per year
International students
£23,900 per year

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details