Research course

Professional Doctorate in Security Risk Management

University of Portsmouth · Institute of Criminal Justice Studies

Entry requirements

A master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Applicants must be professionally engaged in a security related area. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

The Professional Doctorate in Security Risk Management (D.SyRM) is a structured, four-year, part-time programme targeted towards security professionals in the UK and overseas. It comprises a taught element delivered through a small number of workshops in Portsmouth for the first two years and then two years of supervised research leading to a thesis.

The aim of the course is to provide a framework for security professionals to reflect on and contribute to practice in their area of work. Its emphasis is on developing researching professionals (which is distinct from the more traditional PhD route which aims to develop professional researchers).

What will I experience?

Students on the programme welcome the opportunity to enhance their professional standing in their areas of expertise while developing important new knowledge in those areas. They are drawn from a variety of backgrounds including:

  • Corporate security
  • Commercial security
  • International security
  • Security training sector
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Policing
  • Military

What opportunities might it lead to?

The overall aim of the course is to develop security professionals whose work informs, and is informed by, original research in the field. Current research topics include:

  • Managing complex crises
  • Securing the oil and gas sector
  • Security of tax havens

Module Details

A central feature of this programme is that you will be studying with the same cohort of people over the whole four years. The interaction that this provides will give you the opportunity to work, learn and develop together. This avoids the sense of isolation that some PhD students experience.

It is accepted that for many professionals it will not be possible to attend all of the workshops so we also use an online learning environment to make best use of technology to keep in touch.

A professional doctorate at the University of Portsmouth is achieved in two distinct stages with the second stage being divided into two parts.

Stage 1:

This stage comprises 180 M level credits which is the direct entry level to Stage 2

Stage 2:

This stage comprises Parts 1 and 2.

Part 1 (years 1 and 2)

This is the taught component of the course and lasts for two years. During this part you will earn 120 D level credits in assignment work. The four taught units are delivered in two-day blocks, each assessed through a coursework assignment of 6,000 words. Each student is assigned a personal tutor to support them through this part of the course.

Course structure:

  • Professional development and review
  • Advanced research techniques in security risk management
  • Publication and dissemination in security risk management
  • Security risk management project proposal

Part 2 (years 3 and 4)

This part comprises the professional research and development, leading to a thesis of 40,000 to 50,000 words. This will earn 240 D level credits and is mainly independent study and research, combined with supervision meetings and opportunities to meet with your peers to review and gain critical comment on your progress.

Programme Assessment

The doctoral programme aims to develop your research ability in the broad area of security risk management to an advanced level and promote evidence-based practice development. The development of the quality and value of your practice and research will be enhanced through:

  • Seminars and workshops on critical research and security-related issues specifically focused on the development needs of security professionals
  • Support from staff and peers to support you in reaching the necessary (doctoral) standard
  • Supervision from a team with a very wide range of development and research interests and many years of professional experience
  • Access to University of Portsmouth library facilities including a large number of e-books, journals and databases accessed electronically
  • Access to additional, targeted training courses delivered through our Graduate School to meet any specific learning needs related to your individual research
  • The use of an online learning environment enabling you to keep in easy touch with your peers and the course team
  • Development of wider national and international perspectives through networking with your peer group
  • Building ongoing productive links between security organisations
  • Raising the profile, credibility and influence of your profession in both academic and practice contexts

Ultimately you will be assessed on the strength of your thesis.

Student Destinations

Your professional needs and interests shape the research you undertake on this course. You may, therefore, use your increased knowledge and awareness of your profession to support your career aims at the same time.

Qualification and course duration


part time
48 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team - Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
023 9284 3933