Global Security Challenges MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£12,250 (Total)
International fees
£24,500 (Total)

Course overview

Two students looking at a laptop in a busy lecture theatre.

Throughout the modern world societies face evolving threats to their peace, integrity and prosperity. Matters of global security – from military conflict and terrorism to climate change and the shifting international order – present major challenges for governments and other stakeholders which demand new solutions.

The Masters in Global Security Challenges is designed to develop your knowledge of the complex and diverse issues which define the global security agenda. By studying this interdisciplinary course you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of theoretical approaches in security studies and become equipped to consider key challenges and their policy responses through a critical lens.

You’ll study a range of pressing real-world issues from a variety of security perspectives and consider the political and ethical implications of security interventions in these areas. Topics include armed conflict, development, migration, climate change, public health, and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Security challenges defy academic boundaries and must be analysed within their social, cultural, historical, legal and political contexts. This programme therefore draws from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives to interrogate the way we currently understand and address security issues. The course will also help you to critically examine the ways in which different security agendas sometimes conflict with one another and how securitizing our challenges can introduce new ones.

This Masters course unites our commitment and expertise in seeking to understand and develop responses to the most pressing global challenges.

Security at Leeds

This course is part of a suite of three postgraduate courses in the School of Politics and International Studies with a focus on security issues. You may also be interested in our specialist MA Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding and MA Terrorism and Insurgency.

Course highlights

  • Benefit from the academic expertise within the School of Politics and International Studies and the Centre for Global Security Challenges, a leading interdisciplinary research centre for security debates that examines themes of environment, health, gender, conflict, terrorism and international order.

  • Gain specialist knowledge in the debates around global security challenges and the political and ethical concerns they raise.

  • Tailor the course according to your interests with optional modules in climate security, civil war, terrorism, global governance, insurgency, the politics of the Middle East and more.

  • Develop transferable skills in research, analysis, group work and communication.

  • Gain the knowledge, experience and analytical skills needed for a career delivering change, for example in the civil service, non-governmental organisations, the armed forces, campaigning and political lobbying, policing, academia and more.

Course details

You’ll study two core modules that introduce you to key security debates and issues. You’ll examine the evolving security agenda and explore key concepts by focusing on pressing contemporary challenges including ecological security and climate change, the changing international order, Women Peace and Security, military security challenges and public health, amongst others.

You’ll have a choice of optional modules that allow you to specialise in the areas of particular interest to you. You can choose to focus more specifically on themes such as terrorism, climate security, insurgency, global governance, global justice and the politics of the Middle East.

At the end of the course, you’ll submit your dissertation. This is an independent piece of research on a related topic of your choice, which will allow you to demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during the year.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

Global Security: Concepts and Debates (30 credits)

This module explores key conceptual themes and debates in the study of global security. You’ll consider fundamental questions around what security is and its expanding scope, how ideas of security can be in tension with each other, how we study and generate reliable knowledge about security, and whether security is actually possible. You’ll also explore security’s referent object – exploring who security is really for – as well as security threats, new security challenges, and the future of global security as a concept. The module examines some of the controversies related to the operationalisation of security and the political nature of securitization, which can be in tension with other important values – including human rights.

Global Security: Challenges (30 credits)

You’ll learn about the evolving security agenda by focusing on key security challenges, including ecological security and in particular climate change, the changing international order, Women Peace and Security, military security, public health and terrorism. You’ll consider these with a specific focus on the scientific debates, existing policy frameworks and controversies, interconnections and new approaches to finding solutions. Analysis also considers the significance of global themes such as the transitional international order, the ‘polycrisis’, critical post-colonial ideas and conflicting definitions of ‘security’.

Dissertation (60 credits)

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

You will also choose 60 credits of optional modules, typical options may include:

Counterterrorism (30 credits)

Insurgency (30 credits)

Terrorism (30 credits)

Climate Security (30 credits)

The Rise of China (30 credits)

Conflict, Complex Emergences and Global Governance (30 credits)

Civil Wars and Intrastate Armed Conflict (30 credits)

Global Governance (30 credits)

Contemporary Politics of the Middle East (30 credits)

The Responsibility to Protect (30 credits)

Ethics and Politics of Migration and Citizenship (30 credits)

Global Justice (30 credits)

This module offers a critical introduction to contemporary debates in global justice. We will consider what obligations individuals, companies and states may have to persons beyond the borders of their own states, and why they may be said to have these obligations. We will examine some of the most important philosophical positions taken by leading scholars engaged in these debates, including cosmopolitanism, communitarianism, nationalism, liberalism, feminism, and realism. In the context of evaluating the normative claims embedded in these positions we will also discuss some key issues in global justice, such as poverty, migration, and climate change. Students will have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own choosing in considerable depth.

Learning and teaching

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods to help you make the most of your studies. These will include lectures, lively seminar discussions, online learning and guided weekly readings.

We expect you to participate fully in taught sessions and to study independently, developing your skills and preparing for lectures and seminars. You'll also be able to benefit from an impressive range of research talks and seminars led by outside speakers or colleagues from within the department and University.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Within modules, assessment consists primarily of assessed essays. At the end of your studies, a 12,000-word dissertation will allow you to pursue your own research interest under close supervision by one of our expert colleagues.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or a non-UK equivalent in a social science, humanities, or other related discipline. Relevant experience will also be taken into account.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Politics and Society (6 weeks) and Language for Social Sciences and Arts: Politics and Society (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

International – Friday 28 June 2024

UK – Friday 16 August 2024

If you intend to apply for funding, you should submit an application for a place on your chosen course at least one month before any specific scholarship deadline.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught courses and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you will need include:

  • Original or certified copies of your transcripts

  • Original or certified copies of your degree certificate

  • Original or certified copy of your IELTS/TOEFL results (if English is not your first language).

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Politics and International Studies



UK: £12,250 (Total)

International: £24,500 (Total)

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

The School offers a number of scholarships each year. Find out more about our scholarship opportunities.

Career opportunities

This course prepares you for various career paths in the international political arena, equipping you with critical thinking, research and communication skills and in-depth knowledge sought after by employers.

Graduates may pursue careers in non-governmental organisations, armed forces, the civil service, journalism, policing, campaigning and political lobbying or can continue into academia by undertaking research at PhD level.

Careers support

The School of Politics and International Studies has a dedicated Careers Consultant who is on-hand throughout the year to support and advise you in regards to your career. The School also arranges a number of guest speaker events where you're able to engage with prospective employers, and hear from leading figures in the field.

Find out more about how we support your career development.

In addition to the School-specific careers support, you will also have access to the University’s award-winning Careers Service. The Careers Service offers one-to-one appointments, advice on starting your own business, careers events, mentoring schemes and support with your CV, applications and interviews.