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

The MA in Risk, Security and Politics explores the concepts of risk and resilience by focusing on their political resonance and revealing how risk can be used as a political tool to govern societies across the globe. It also examines the ways in which uncertainty contributes to the make-up of contemporary society.

This interdisciplinary course is an ideal choice if you have a social science or geography background, and it is equally accessible to those who previously studied in the arts and humanities. It develops the essential skills and knowledge needed to make a critical analysis of risk as a tool of government in tackling a range of global challenges from climate change, displacement and disasters to geopolitics, security and terrorism.

You will study taught modules over one year full-time or two years part-time in subjects that include the understanding, managing and preventing of risk, the social dimensions of risk, and the latest skills and techniques involved in working with geographic information. You will also complete either a research-based dissertation by conducting original independent study or produce a vocational dissertation that combines independent research with a practical external placement.

The core programme is delivered by a team of subject specialists in the Department of Geography and Durham University's Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience - a team of research experts who work at the forefront of risk theory and practice. Together, they provide specialised training on the latest theories, concepts and methods relating to security, politics and risk.

You can also tailor the course to your interests with the option to choose approved modules from the School of Government and International Affairs and Sociology Department.

Course structure

Core modules:

Understanding Risk provides an overview of the key theories and concepts that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of risk involving human action and environmental events. You will learn the basic concepts and terms used to describe and communicate risk, as well as studying interventions involved in managing, preventing or mitigating against risk to populations, and building an understanding of the determinants of risk and its social inequalities.

Risk Frontiers is delivered by the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research. The module looks at current risk research and provides training in the generic skills of interpreting, criticising and collating the emerging research. What you learn will help meet the demands of the risk industry and associated areas such as disaster reduction, security, development and humanitarian relief.

Using Geographical Skills and Techniques provides training in the use of geographic skills and techniques with the aim of developing a range of transferable skills relevant to professional and personal development. The emphasis is on enhancing existing quantitative and qualitative research skills, exploring issues involved in the design and conduct of working with geographic information, and providing hands-on experience working with spatial data in a human-geography context.

Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience offers advanced training in topics relevant to understanding the social dimensions of risk and resilience with a particular emphasis on environmental hazard, climate change, security, migration and insurance. This module takes an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on research in human geography, security studies, sociology of risk, political science, science and technology studies, and migration and refugee studies.

The Dissertation (Research or Vocational) builds on your learning in core and optional modules. It offers the option to develop your independent research skills through a research dissertation in which you carry out original independent research supported by our staff. Alternatively, you can choose the vocational dissertation route which combines research with collaborations or placements with external organisations. We offer vocational dissertation partnerships and project options through our large and growing partner and alumni network, or we can support you in developing your own vocational research collaborations.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Social Policy and Society;
  • Debating the European Union;
  • International Politics of the Middle East;
  • The Politics of East Asia.

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
International students

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