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More in this section MSc Geopolitics & Security

Meet our students

Our students come from an amazing variety of backgrounds and educational systems, and they have some extraordinary professional experience. We will be adding profiles throughout each year of the programme to highlight out their achievements and plans for the future.



Katherine Tanner

Katherine Tanner is the first Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholar in the Geopolitics and Security Masters program at RHUL. A graduate of Southwestern University in Texas with a BA in International Political Science, she studied and conducted field studies on EU politics and foreign policy in Freiburg, Germany and throughout many EU member states. She also studied energy security at Kadir Has University in Istanbul while simultaneously working in the energy sector there. She speaks German and limited Turkish and served as a legislative intern in the Texas Senate and a fashion intern with an international label. Katherine is interested in transatlantic relations, foreign policy, natural resource security and emergency planning


diego Diego Solis

Diego graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, spring 2011, in Business Administration majoring in air transportation. After graduating in early 2011, he went to work as a private consultant in the People’s Republic of China advising a group of Guatemalan entrepreneurs. After spending a total of 8 months in Shenzhen, China, he worked in Guatemala in investment and  organizational culture consulting. Diego joined the program given his interest in world affairs, but most importantly, the relationship between political identity, culture and geopolitics.

Diego enjoys learning different languages; he currently speaks Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Mandarin. Also, he has lived in several different countries including Panama, United States, Canada, Italy, France, China, and currently in the U.K. He is a multi-IFR licensed pilot of both FAA and Guatemalan licenses. He looks forward to work as a private consultant or in a think tank focusing in the Latin American region.

ElizabethAlexander1_2011_Small Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander joined Royal Holloway's MSc in Geopolitics and Security Program in 2013, after more than a decade working at Microsoft in the technology industry.  Her work at Microsoft (from which she is on leave) spans disciplines and geographies; in R&D as a Senior Program Manager and most recently Director of Product Management. She has been based mostly in Seattle, Washington with stints in London and Helsingor, Denmark and travels to over 30 countries across the world. 
An Alaska native, Elizabeth earned dual Bachelors Degrees from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in Political Science and Journalism.  She also holds a MSc. in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics.  Enrolling in the Geopolitics and Security Program initiates a mid-career shift in focus, and a welcome return to her academic roots and core interests in international relations, geography and futures.

In particular, Elizabeth is interested in borders, the process of bordering and how borders of all kinds change and shift and are secured, the impact of technology and politics and the inverse, the role of commercial corporations in geopolitics, virtual communities, nationalism and citizenship. 



garrett1 Garrett Speers

Garrett joined Royal Holloway in 2010, undertaking the BA Geography course from which he graduated with an Upper Second Class (Honours) degree in 2013. Garrett was attracted to the course in MSc Geopolitics and Security, as this perfectly complemented his personal and academic interests as well as his past research expertise which had formed the basis for his undergraduate dissertation on ‘The Resurgence of Cold War Films in a post-9.11 era’ – critically examining the power of Popular Geopolitics and its changing role between the 1950s and the modern day.  

Garrett is particularly interested in various forms of ‘soft power’ geopolitics, and their roles on the world stage; the increasing vernacularisation of security in the modern age, and issues of sovereignty disputes. Garrett is a member of the editorial board for the RHUL Geopolitics & Security Blog.  


Sami Zeglam

Sami Joined Royal Holloway in 2010 starting a BSc joint honours degree in Geography, Politics and International Relations graduating in 2013. This was followed by the decision to undertake the MSc in Geopolitics and Security because of its contemporary relevance and the close relationship to that of Sami's own personal interests in the ownership of natural resources and its subsequent impact on security, sovereignty and foreign policy. Sami hopes to pursue further the use of media and other forms of communication such as Twitter by both the state and non-state actors as a political tool, particularly in relation to  Arab and ‘Middle Eastern’ politics.



Daniel Kelly

I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Geography at Royal Holloway in 2012, before I decided to take the Geopolitics & Security MSc part-time. The programme has a fantastic range of courses to choose from, an incredibly beautiful campus which is hard to leave and a superb set of lecturers to interact with. I particularly enjoy the flexibility in assignment topics, and how you personally wish to approach them. My own interests focus on political music and, more generally, the geopolitics of popular media and the role of the ‘journalist’.




Matthew Smith

Matt joins Royal Holloway this year after three years at Aberystwyth University where he undertook a BSc in Geography graduating with a 2:1 in the summer of 2013. Matt is especially interested in natural resources particularly those within new frontiers. He is currently exploring the actions of (nation)-states and how they secure and compete over access to these resources. Since joining the course Matt has found that the intensive range of debates he has been exposed to have stimulated new interests particularly around the ‘states of emergency’ associated with civil unrest, cyber security and in particular the legality of cyber strikes. When he finishes the MSc, Matt plans on finding work within a think tank or private organisations as a research analyst.


Rachael Squire

Rachael joined the Geography Department at Royal Holloway in 2009, graduating with a degree in Geography, Politics and International Relations in 2012. The same year she took up a part-time ESRC 1+3 phd studentship, funding her a place on the Geopolitics and Security Masters program whilst also working part-time for a Member of Parliament. Rachael has a wide range of interests but has particularly been focusing on issues surrounding maritime security, shipping containers and banal geopolitics. Next year Rachael will continue at Royal Holloway with a PhD.



Some of our first cohort from 2012-13

ErikThorvilson Erik Thorvilson

Erik Thorvilson graduated from West Point, New York, in 2003 and joins Royal Holloway after a seven-year career as an engineer officer in the US military where he worked in Germany, Bulgaria and the Middle East. Erik was attracted to the programme because of its immersion into a diverse and distinctive range of topics including the polar regions, border security, biometrics, emergency planning and humanitarian assistance.

Erik enjoys any outdoor pursuit but specifically takes pleasure in nature photography, high altitude alpinism and flying small aircraft.  These personal pursuits align with his academic research interests especially in the polar regions as he wishes to pursue further travels or employment in either the Arctic or Antarctic in the future.  Specifically, Erik is interested in the opportunities and conflicts that may arise from the emergence of new territories due to continued ice melt in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and his future research and career interests include analysis, development and humanitarian assistance in these regions.

brunJohanne Brun

I graduated last year from Aalborg with a BSc in Geography and wanted an international degree to improve my employability and language skills, and Royal Holloway was recommended to me by my former supervisor. I was drawn immediately to the MSc in Geopolitics & Security due to its wide range of possibilities for pursuing specialised knowledge within the field of geopolitics.

Travelling and experiencing different cultures have spurred an interest in the ways cultural and spatial differences are imagined and articulated, how people make sense of a complex and diverse world and how this affects politics. Works such as Derek Gregory’s The Colonial Present (2004) and Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) really speak to the ‘inner idealist’, because they point to the importance of being critical of conceptualisations of geography, which are generally taken for granted.

When I finish my MSc, I aspire to do a PhD on the geographical imaginations bound up in the notion of small state theory and geopolitics, focusing particularly on the everyday and popular representations of aid and humanitarian assistance, military interventions and constructions of self/other, such as in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.

Peter Peter Kapsaskis

Peter Dennis Kapsaskis graduated from Panteion University of Athens in 2009 and worked in the Ministry of the foreign affairs of Greece and the Greek Diplomatic Academy as a trainee. After finishing his one-year military service Peter joined Royal Holloway in 2012. His particular interests in the fields of security, diplomacy, conflict analysis and resolution, attracted him to the MSc as it offers a wide but distinctive range of topics to allow him to explore these interests.

Peter is particularly interested in analyzing the resolution of the Cypriot issue and in his summer dissertation he is exploring issues of border security, especially the political symbolism and contested meanings of the walls and borders along the green line and the buffer zone. During his dissertation, Peter has also taken up a position at the Hellenic Institute of Geopolitical Research in Athens.

When he finishes his MSc, Peter aspires to undertake a PhD in energy geopolitics and environmental security, before pursuing a career in related fields or the diplomatic corps.  


Emma Emma Gilbert

Emma joined Royal Holloway in 2009 to begin a Geography degree and graduated in 2012. She was then attracted to the MSc due to her interest in current global affairs and specifically military, defence and security policy. These interests have led her to focus her dissertation on the legal issues surrounding Drone wars, in particular the involvement of civilians and the challenges to the legal principle of 'distinction'. Emma is a member of the University of London Air Squadron based in Knightsbridge, where she has gained a large amount of work experience, leadership and management training within the Royal Air Force alongside her studies. Emma is currently in the process of applying to join the Royal Air Force as an Intelligence Officer.


april April McCoig

April graduated from Royal Holloway in 2012 with a BA Honours degree in Geography. She decided to pursue her studies through the MSc because of her interests in current global issues, such as the threat posed by terrorism and how measures of counter-terrorism are being implemented to reduce this risk. April is also interested in the growing notion of the ‘lone-wolf’ terrorist and the relationship of this figure to technological innovations that have allowed individuals to become radicalised in networked societies. These interests have led April to develop her dissertation focusing on counter-terrorism practices, looking specifically at the current Metropolitan Police led poster campaign ‘If you suspect it, report it’. April is exploring how the campaign has been understood and interpreted by the public, broader debates in ‘poster geopolitics’ as well as ideas surrounding the ‘surveillance society’



Rosanna Rosanna White 

Rosanna White graduated from Royal Holloway in 2012 with a BSc First Class Honours in Geography, Politics andInternational Relations. She wasinitially drawn to the Geography department’s prestigious researchreputation and broad international student community. The opportunity to undertake a postgraduatedegree in two complementary departments made it a natural progression to stayon and take up a place on the newly offered MSc in Geopolitics and Security whichcombines Rosanna’s interests in Security Studies and Geopolitics.The beautiful campus and the quality of facilitieson offer at Holloway were an added attraction as a keen hockey player!

Rosanna has developed a keen focus on State Sovereignty, Territorial Claims, The Antarctic Treaty and Polar Geopolitics. Her Master’s dissertation this year will consider how the Australian Antarctic Territory has been represented within Australian national identity and cultural heritage. The project will contribute to the on-going debates in the area, especially on how Australia currently portrays part of the Antarctic as Australian.

In September, Rosanna looks forward to beginning a PhD in Canadian Arctic Geopolitics at Royal Holloway in conjunction with the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.


More to follow...

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