Taught course

International Security

University of Sussex · International Relations

Entry requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent), preferably in a humanities or social sciences subject. Relevant degrees include political science, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, sociology, and area studies. A degree in the social sciences or humanities does not constitute a strict requirement and applicants with degrees in other disciplines will be given due consideration. Relevant work and voluntary experience will also be considered, particularly in cases where candidates fall short of the academic requirement

Months of entry


Course content

This MA provides you with a rigorous understanding of contemporary security and emerging security challenges. Traditional elements of military power are now increasingly accompanied by technologies such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and electronic warfare and ‘asymmetric’ threats such as transnational terrorism, which have the potential to challenge existing balances of power and change the conduct of international security. At the same time, new issues have emerged within the international security agenda, with links being drawn between security and climate change, resource scarcity, gender and human security, the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and avian flu, and complex emergencies in the global South.

‘Security’ itself remains a deeply contested term, with stark analytical and political disagreements on its use. Decision-makers, analysts and citizens therefore face an uncertain and complex field of thought and action in an ever-changing security environment.

You explore the many different understandings of ‘security’, their histories and futures, and look at how they matter to war, insurgency and foreign policy today. You learn how to produce theoretically and empirically informed analysis of a range of issues, including imperial war, civil wars, violence against civilians, military intervention, terrorism and new technologies of war. You also examine a variety of contemporary issues, from intelligence to resilience and from
rising powers to WMDs and biosecurity.

The course includes an optional fieldtrip to Brussels, Belgium.

Academic activities

On many of our MA courses, you are encouraged to participate in:


International Security is assessed by a 5,000-word term paper. New Security Challenges is assessed by an unseen paper. Assessment of the spring-term options is by 5,000-word term papers. You also write a 10,000-word dissertation.

Research placements

A research placement allows you to gain experience in an area of work relating to your subject of study and to acquire practical skills in preparation for a professional career. Research placements run over a 12-week period in the summer term and vacation. If you take a research placement, you have the opportunity to write a dissertation based on your experience.

Course Structure

We continue to develop and update our modules for 2016 entry to ensure you have the best student experience. In addition to the course structure below, you may find it helpful to refer to the Modules tab.

Autumn term: International Security • New Security Challenges.

Spring term: you choose two options from East Asia in the International System • Foreign Policy Analysis • Governing Global Capitalism • Human Rights in International Relations • Irregular Warfare • Peace Processes and Post-Conflict Reconstruction • Queer International Relations • Reading Foucault in IR • Religions, Cultures and Civilisations in International Relations • Rethinking Imperialism • Russian Foreign and Security Policy • Science, Technology and War • Terror, Security and the State • The Global Politics of Disease and Biosecurity • The Middle East in Global Order • The Political Economy of Development • The Political Economy of Global Finance • The Political Economy of the Environment.

You also take a Research Methods and Professional Skills module, which provides training to prepare you for further research and a professional career. This module is delivered as a series of workshops, including one that prepares you for your dissertation.

Summer term: you carry out work on your MA dissertation under the supervision of a member of faculty. There is also a dissertation with a placement option.

Information for international students


Fees and funding

UK students
International students

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please visit:www.sussex.ac.uk/study/money/scholarships/pgt2016/

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 877686