MA International Security


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The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) rated 70% of UEA's research in Politics and International Studies as 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).

"International politics has always fascinated me and postgraduate study enables you to understand current affairs and to broaden your knowledge on key debates"

In their words

Oliver Steward, MA International Relations

Few subjects could claim to be quite as relevant as International Security, and our MA will provide you with a thorough and in-depth understanding of the key issues and debates within it.

You’ll cover war, peace, conflict and terrorism, as well as the ‘new security challenges’, such as poverty, famine and environmental change. You’ll acquire essential grounding in international relations theory. You’ll study security within the international system, from the Cold War to the present day and engage in simulations, learning about the theoretical and practical challenges posed by the strategic relations between the different international stakeholders.

You’ll graduate ready for a career in international security, or to pursue doctoral research. And you’ll do all this under the guidance of leading authorities in the field. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) rated 70% of UEA's research in Politics and International Studies as world leading or internationally excellent.


Our Master’s degree programme will provide you with a theoretical and empirical understanding of the major issues in – and challenges posed to – international security.

Within our core modules you'll examine contemporary security and gain sound knowledge of the issues that fall within its realm, including new wars, humanitarian interventions, poverty, famine, disease pandemics, transnational crime and terrorism. You’ll get to grips with international relations theory. And you’ll find solutions to the type of challenges you might face in the real world through simulated exercises.

You’ll be able to tailor your learning by selecting optional modules, and you’ll complete your degree with your Master’s dissertation, which you’ll research and write independently on a subject of your choosing, with academic supervision.

You could also have the chance to take part in trips abroad to locations including Brussels and Geneva, and institutions such as the EU and NATO. Once there, you’ll have the opportunity to speak to officials and military personnel about their work. And you’ll also be able to meet graduates from UEA who are now working in or near Brussels.

Our programme also involves visits most years to Paris, Kortrijk in Flanders, and Geneva. The programme includes study and discussion with academics, politicians and officials, plus visits to international organisations, non-governmental bodies and think tanks such as the European Institute for Asian studies, ICRC, WHO and UNESCO.

As a member of our postgraduate community you’ll be able to attend numerous events and talks during your time here. We regularly attract distinguished lecturers, with previous guests including Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty and Sir Stephen Wall, a retired diplomat. Find out more about our postgraduate community and experience some of these lectures.

Course Structure

Our one-year International Security Master’s programme includes three compulsory modules: International Security, International Relations Theory, and War Games: Diplomacy and Strategy in International Relations.

The module International Relations Theory is central to all of our international politics MA programmes, and will provide you with an essential grounding in the subject area. It offers a current and interdisciplinary understanding of international politics, and requires no previous knowledge of the subject.

In International Security, you’ll examine the study of security within the international system, from its roots in Cold War strategic studies to the development of the broader field of security studies today. You’ll critically analyse contemporary security issues and gain a sound theoretical base for considering practical issues of security, including new wars, humanitarian interventions, poverty, famine, disease pandemics, transnational crime and terrorism.

The final compulsory module, War Games: Diplomacy and Strategy in International Relations, is a simulation-based introduction to some of the major issues and ideas concerning diplomacy and military strategy in international relations. The simulations will help you learn about the theoretical and practical challenges posed by the strategic relations between states, so you develop a more nuanced understanding of war and peace in international politics.

You’ll also be able to tailor the course to your interests by choosing three of our optional modules.

The remaining core component of the course is the Dissertation module. You’ll write your dissertation on a topic that interests you, as agreed with a specialist supervisor from the faculty, and you’ll submit this in September. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to hone your skills in conducting independent research, and through it you’ll gain valuable experience, producing a lengthy piece of research on a specialist topic of your choosing.

We organise a dedicated Postgraduate Day in the spring, which is an opportunity to discuss the progress of your dissertation with staff and fellow MA and PhD students. And we have an office in Brussels, in association with the East of England European Partnership. The office provides a base for our teaching and employability activities, and as a postgraduate student, you will be able to use its facilities to carry out research and write your dissertation, should you so wish.

Teaching and Learning


Our Political, Social and International Studies department within the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies possesses world-leading expertise in the research and teaching of international politics, public policy, media and society, and social and political theory.

You will be taught by experts in international relations, security studies, political philosophy, political communications and media studies. Our teaching is research-led, in that we ask the same questions of our students as we do in our research. Which means you can be sure your learning is at the cutting-edge of the discipline.

The majority of our teaching takes place in lectures, seminars and simulation exercises, which are supported by films and other scenarios in order to explore different ideas and examples, both thematically and empirically.

Independent study

Each of the modules you’ll undertake has been designed to improve your engagement and encourage independent learning, and the independent study element of this MA programme will help you develop many skills that will be crucial to your future career. Primarily, the ability to think critically and to constructively and sensitively question ‘received wisdom’, which will prove enormously important in any profession.

To help develop this skillset, we’ll give you the opportunity to hone your debating, presentation and teamwork skills, your project work, critical analysis and synthesis of arguments, your independent research, written and time management skills, as well as your ability to apply theory to real-world cases.


In addition to your Master’s dissertation, you will be assessed for each module using a variety of methods, including essays, projects, course tests and reflective reports.

After the course

An MA is an excellent way to set yourself apart from other graduates when it comes to securing a good job, and can also lead on to doctoral research. An understanding of international affairs is increasingly important in all kinds of careers, while our International Security programme will provide you with vital employability skills and many networking opportunities.

Recent graduates from our School have taken jobs in business, teaching, research, journalism, and many international organisations, including the UN, EU and NATO.

UEA Careers Services can provide employment advice, as well as helping you arrange internships and work placements.

Career destinations

  • Policy analyst
  • Journalist
  • Researcher
  • Academic
  • Teaching
  • The UN
  • The EU
  • NATO

Course related costs

The trip to Brussels is subsidised but there will be some additional cost.

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

Name Code Credits


The main objective of this course is to introduce you to the academic study of International Relations theory. You'll investigate leading theoretical approaches and become familiar with important concepts and debates in International Relations theory. You'll be introduced to the nature of knowledge claims (epistemology) and fundamental assumptions about social/international reality (ontology) in International Relations.




For all MA students registered on programmes in Political Social and International Studies except those undertaking a Dissertation by Practice. Students are required to write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic approved by the Course Director or other authorised person. The dissertation is to be submitted the first working day of September in the relevant year.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Elections are the primary way in which citizens hold governments to account, obtain representation and allow direct decision making in referendums. However, there are also often under threat by old and new challenges to electoral integrity. These challenges might include cyber-security concerns; gerrymandered electoral boundaries; millions of people missing electoral registers; electoral violence and voter intimidation; ballot stuffing; and, poorly organised electoral management bodies. These problems can manifest themselves in elections in all parts of the world. They potentially have major consequences for who wins elections, democratic accountability, the inclusivity of society, conflict and security, global politics and more. This course will provide students with a comprehensive account of how, when and why elections go wrong and what can be done to improve them. Part I of the course introduces students to key aspects of democratic theory and theories of institutional change necessary for understanding the role of elections in democratic politics and why electoral institutions can be difficult to reform. Part II focuses on the key aspects of elections, from electoral systems, election monitoring and the voter franchise. The focus of the course is global.




Is there a crisis in public services? Is the efficient and accountable organisation of the machinery of governments under threat? We hear much about entering a 'post-bureaucratic age' for the governance of countries. What might this mean? Is it possible? We will examine the organisation and operation of public sectors in the shadow of democracy, putting current debates in the UK in a historical and international comparative context. On completing the module, you will have analysed and evaluated the most influential models and theories of public management and organisational behaviour, be able to describe and critically reflect on the framework for public management in practice, focussed especially on recent developments in the UK, understand the reasons for public management reform, and be able to engage in debates about the future direction of the public sector.




How and why is public policy made the way it is? Our aim is to enable students to develop a rich and wide appreciation of the many ways that policy is made and the factors that influence these. You will gain advanced critical understanding some of the main theories, models and concepts used in the study of public policy and how they are applied. You will also develop substantive knowledge of specific policies and policy areas, which may include environment, health, immigration and welfare policy. In addition, students successfully completing the module will be able to demonstrate an empirical understanding of the public policy process in the UK, ability to make comparisons with other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) democracies, and an understanding of the changing role of nation-states in policy development.



Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module will use case studies of Southeast Asia, Central America and the Middle East to explore the reasons for American interventions and to assess their success or failure. It will offer an historical understanding of the assumptions and practices which lie behind contemporary US foreign policy-making. The module will introduce students to the institutions and processes involved in the making of American foreign policy.




You will examine the origins, development and recent history of the European Union, the dynamics of EU decision making, and the working of EU policies in key areas, such as the single market, economic and monetary union, trade, and security and defence. You will explore the role and internal operation of the EU institutions, as well as the interaction between the EU and the member states, including what the obligations of membership imply for member countries. You will critically assess the key theories, models and concepts used in the study of the EU.




Providing a conceptual overview of feminist research approaches, you will examine contemporary gender and power relations. You will examine both the formal and informal power structures that shape the experience of gender. Bringing together the fields of media, sociology, politics and cultural studies, the module explores the extent to which feminist theory informs gender-based activism.




The module looks at the history of China and Japan from the mid-19th century to the present day. You'll cover the attempts at modernisation, conflict between the two nations, their relationships with the Asian region and the United States. You'll also investigate their contrasting attempts to develop in the post-war period. In addition, you'll assess their current policies and the issues of importance to China and Japan in the 21st century, and explore whether they can move beyond the legacy of this difficult history.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Humanities or Social Sciences
  • Degree Classification Bachelors (Hons) degree - 2.1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Pre-sessional courses online from June to September 2020. Further details can be found on the INTO UEA Online Pre-Sessional English webpage.



This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact university directly for further information.


All applications for postgraduate study are processed through the Faculty Admissions Office and forwarded to the relevant School of Study for consideration. If you are currently completing your first degree or have not yet taken a required English language test, any offer of a place will be conditional upon you achieving this before you arrive.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850
  • International Students: £16,400

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

Living Expenses

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities has a number of Scholarships and Awards on offer. For further information relevant to Political, Social and International Studies, visit the Scholarships and Funding page for postgraduate students.

How to Apply

Please note that this course is no longer accepting applications for September 2020 entry. We are welcoming applications for September 2021 entry. 

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

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    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515