Today's global community has brought with it unique and unforeseen challenges, from the threat of environmental catastrophe and resource shortages, to infrastructural and economic failure and global terror. Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway, University of London equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle these era-defining issues to mitigate the impact of potential crises and foster critical reflections on the strategies and techniques which seek to keep us secure..
This flexible Masters programme lets you select from a range of specialist courses to suit your own interests and career ambitions, choosing from options in both the Departments of Geography and Politics and International Relations. Graduates will gain a Masters degree in a discipline offering excellent employability prospects, while professionals seeking further academic training will learn transferable risk management skills ideal for further career development.
You'll join a vibrant research community and contribute to our renowned research culture with your own independent dissertation project. You’ll benefit from networking and placement opportunities with leading organisations and institutions, enjoy exciting field working opportunities in the UK and abroad, and work with leading researchers and research groups such as our Politics, Development and Sustainability Group in Geography with established track record in grant awards (eg from the ESRC, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, EPSRC, British Academy, British Council, Falkland Island Government and the EU Marie-Curie fund).
Study Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway and you’ll graduate with a range of transferable skills to take with you into the workplace or further study. Learn to reflect on some of the most profound challenges of our times in this exciting Masters programme.
- Principles of Geopolitics and Security
- Research Design in Geopolitics and Security
Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Politics and International Relations
This module provides an introduction to a range of quantitative methods commonly used in the study of Politics and International Relations, equipping you with the skills to successfully study and analyse a wide range of political phenomena. You will examine ways in which theoretical propositions can be tested with empirical data, and a substantial part of the module will be based in labs where you will learn how to carry out quantitative analysis on existing data sets on elections, democracy and war. The aim is to empower you so that you are confident in interpreting and handling statistical data. No prior knowledge or experience of statistics is needed, and you will develop both a conceptual understanding of the statistical techniques and practical experience in conducting statistical analysis.
Theories and Qualitative Approaches in Politics and International Relations
This module will provide you with an introduction to the core theories and qualitative approaches in politics and international relations. You will examine a number of explanatory and theoretical frameworks, their basic assumptions, strengths and weaknesses, and concrete research applications. You will consider the various qualitative techniques available for conducting search research, the range of decisions qualitative researchers face, and the trade-offs researchers must consider when designing qualitative research. You will examine qualitative methodology in political analysis, including interviews, focus groups and ethnography; analysing textual data; comparative qualitative methods; and comparative qualitative analysis of history and political change.
- Social Science Methods for Political Geography
- Resilience and the Governing of Emergency
Transnational Security and the Law of Targeting
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of international law and how these are applied to targeting during armed conflict. You will look at what the law consists of and how the legal rules are represented in writing. You will also consider how the legal rules are applied in practice, in relation to particular types of attack, examining topics of current controversy, such as civilians and the notion of direct participation in hostilities, use of unmanned vehicles, and cyber attacks.
US Foreign Policy
In this module you will develop an advanced knowledge of the key concepts, themes and issues in United States Foreign Policy. You will look at both the history of US foreign policy as well as contemporary issues, utilising readings of key texts on a weekly basis to provide you with an in-depth exploration of these issues and how Americans think about foreign affairs.
- Contemporary Geopolitics of the Polar Regions
- Military and the Media
Sovereignty, Rights and Justice in a Time of Crisis
Given the complexity and controversy of events and occurrences in international affairs, it seems strange to think that the disciplines of international relations and political theory were considered to be separate in the 20th Century. In this module you will look at the re-emergence of international political theory after the Cold War, developing a comprehensive understanding of international events. In doing so, you will examine and evaluate key ideas about the central notions of sovereignty, the rights of states and individuals and what justice means in an international context. You will engage with material at the cutting edge of contemporary political and international relations theory, thinking about issues that will be of increasing importance in the 21st century.
- The Armed Forces and Society
Non-State Violence as a Challenge to Security
In this module you will develop an understanding of the changes to post-Cold War defence policy. You will look at the new objectives of defence policy, military capabilities, force structures and doctrines of the world’s major military powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia). You will analyse the extent to which these reforms have helped the state concerned to meet its central security challenges. You will explore the embedding of defence policies within regional and international institutions and the sources of defence cooperation, analysing the role and implications of non-state actors in defence, notably private military companies and non-governmental organisations.
The Law of Cyber Warfare
This module introduces you to the basic concepts of international law and how these concepts are applied to the use of cyber force and the conduct of cyber operations, including cyber attacks during an armed conflict. You will consider when a cyber act amounts to an unlawful use of force, what cyber activities justify the resort to self defence, how to evaluate the lawfulness of different cyber weapons, and what rules govern their use. You develop an understanding of the current legal framework and consider how it can be applied to this new medium.
Teaching & assessment
Formal and informal assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, oral and group work presentations, policy, briefing and media reports, video and documentary production, scenario planning and role-play, and a dissertation. Field visits to important sites and organisations, including RUSI, the IMO, the FCO, the RGS and others will also be available, supporting collegial interaction between students and staff. Emphasis is placed on informal assessment (especially through group work) so that students have plenty of opportunities to receive formative support and guidance.
Each year, the group will work on a major week-long project working with a cohort of French Masters students to devise the security planning of a major mega-event.
This programme is delivered in a single stage, equating to either one-year of full-time study or two years part-time, (or up to five years of part-time study by agreement with the Programme Director)
On completion of the course you will have:
- An advanced knowledge and critical understanding of geopolitics and security including core debates, and case studies.
- A detailed appreciation of methods and sources used to investigate geopolitical and security related issues and themes
- High-level skills development especially in communication (including social media), report writing, briefing papers, political debate and critical thinking
- Opportunities to enhance employability through practical experience and exposure to relevant individuals and organizations in the geopolitical/security-related field
UK (Honours) degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.
Mature students with substantial and relevant work experience would be considered.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 6.5. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 61. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students (PDIS), a one-year full-time programme that will prepare you for postgraduate study in the UK. For more information please see here.
Your future career
Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway, University of London has a strong emphasis on skills development and employability, putting graduates in an excellent position to progress to further study or a rewarding career in their chosen field. Ideal for both recent graduates and professionals seeking further training, this programme will provide you with excellent field experience, placement and networking opportunities for a career working in commercial or political organisations such as banking, energy, media, think tanks, NGOs and government, where risk (management), threat and insecurity are critical to strategic policy development..
Our recent alumni have progressed to fulfilling careers in government, the media, risk and security consultancies, non-governmental organisations and public organisations both in the UK and abroad. An ideal stepping stone for PhD progression, Geopolitics and Security will help you to achieve your career and academic ambitions.
- 90% of Royal Holloway graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
- Study a programme with a strong emphasis on skills development and employability.
- Graduate with a Masters degree in a field with excellent graduate employability prospects.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £8500
International students tuition fee per year**: £14900
Other essential costs***: You should allow for up to £150 for travel and subsistence from campus to London for fieldwork and trips to organisations and societies.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.