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More in this section MSc Geopolitics & Security

How the programme works

Courses and modules

Each student takes a total of six courses (or modules), some of which are compulsory and others optional. Each course is worth 11.1%, with the exception of the dissertation (33.3%), which is conducted in the final summer term. A detailed programme structure can be downloaded here.

  • Compulsory & core courses: 
    The compulsory and core courses provide detailed grounding in sovereignty and territory concepts and disputes, border zones and boundary conflicts, and specific regional issues such as the polar regions and resource claims and important communications modes and infrastructures, such as social media. They also give particular insight into the practice or ‘doing’ of geopolitical and security policy, strategy and analysis. Some of our compulsory courses also now form part of the training component of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber-Security, funded by the EPSRC and led by the world renowned Information Security Group. This means that our students mix and collaborate with the next generation of cyber security academics and professionals (see the recent debate we held on Edward Snowden and the politics of security leaks).
  • Specialist (free) options:
    The free specialist options provide in-depth analysis of themes such as risk, resilience and security; counter-terrorism; rising powers and international targeting law. Furthermore, they do so from diverse perspectives within the disciplines of Geography and International Relations. Class sizes are seminar based, with between 5-15 students.
  • Dissertation:
    The dissertation is a 12,000 word assignment carried out during the summer that will test your critical and analytical skills in a piece of primary research in a topic of your choice. This will be supported by a selected supervisor. We will strongly encourage our students, where possible, to develop professional connections with relevant organizations and individuals. The dissertation can be a great opportunity to develop career-related opportunities.
  • Tutorials: 
  • During term, the programme is supported by regular formal meetings with your personal tutor to discuss progress through the term, and a bi-weekly 'catchup' tutorial led by Professor Klaus Dodds (between 5-10 students). This sessions mean students are given a chance for the course to 'breathe', and to devote time to reflect on questions and themes as they come up and cross the different modules and courses in the programme.


    Course structure

    There are compulsory courses linked to Term 1 and Term 2. These are Principles of Geopolitics and Security (term 1) and Research Design in Geopolitics and Security (term 2). These courses are the centre of the programme and are taught through 3 main modes, outlined in the table (below).

    Given the wide mix of courses in each term and these different modes of delivery, the programme is quite intensive although many of our students are able to fit work commitments around their studies. To get a sense of the timetable for this term’s Principles in Geopolitics and Security course, you can download that here.

    These 2 hour sessions form the heart of the course and are staff led seminars which go ‘deep’ into the literature whilst pulling out to see and interrogate those ideas in application. The sessions are broadly split into 3 parts.

    • Part 1. Engagement (1st hr)

      a. 3-4 readings set in advance. Bound in a course pack, all students will be expected to read the required readings.
      b. 15-30 mins tutor led introduction to the topic, context to the readings, and outline of key questions to discuss of the text.
      c. 20-30 mins discussion around these key questions, topics and issues raised by the students.

    • Part 2. Praxis and Activity

      This 2nd hr is more practically orientated and activity led. Students may be asked to prepare something in advance or bring material with them. The sessions apply debates and concepts to specific contexts and/or relate to topical debates in the news and/or relate to the practice of geopolitical and security analysis.

    • Part. 3. Hot Debrief Lunch

      The 3rd and non-compulsory hour runs into a lunch-time informal debriefing after the Engagement and Praxis session with Geopolitics and Security staff. Based on ‘hot debriefings’ used by emergency and operational planners, the aim is to immediately reflect on issues and themes brought up in the session, share ideas, build confidence and generally get to know each other. Normally, however, the conversation moves quite off topic!

    These sessions see the direct employment of ideas developed in the programme through in-depth research projects outlined by visiting experts, the professional application of geopolitical and security analysis, and the representation of these themes through popular and creative expression such as in film.

    These sessions have been designed by Careers to support your personal and professional development through the programme. 

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