MSc in Global Security

The traditional military threats which defined global security matters for the best part of the 20th century have been quickly replaced by new and re-emerging security challenges. This programme offers you the opportunity to examine many of these contemporary threats.
Key facts

MSc: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time
Contact: Dr Eamonn Butler :

Why Glasgow
  • You will take a study visit to Brussels which offers the chance to experience security and political institutions like NATO and the European Commission and meet key security personnel.
  • You will develop your knowledge of the security challenges impacting our rapidly changing social and political environment at a local, national and global level. These range from terrorism and cyber warfare to disease, migration and climate change.
  • You can combine a broad spectrum of subject areas into your degree, including politics, sociology, Central & East European studies, war studies, archaeology, computing science, geography, law, business and education.
  • You will have the opportunity to take part in policy development exercises: working with government officials and policy-makers to simulate the process of responding to major international security crises.
  • The programme will also include a series of master classes from high profile professionals and academics working in the field of security.
Programme structure

Core courses

  • International security and global politics
  • Thematic issues in global security
  • Comparative approaches to warfare and violent conflict
  • Either: Qualitative research methods OR Social sciences statistics
  • Dissertation.

Optional courses

You will supplement the core elements of the programme with a range of elective classes chosen from a broad list of optional courses.


In addition to the general degree programme students have the opportunity to study one of 3 specialised pathways. Current pathways include:

  • Politics, Information and Security
  • Social and Cultural Perspectives
  • Strategy and Defence

Politics, Information and Security

Provides students with the opportunity to examine how cyber issues and information communications technologies challenge the way states and citizens alike attempt to use and constrain information in a range of societies for security purposes.
Specialised courses within this pathway include:
– The Internet and Civil Society
– Human-Centred Security*
– Systems and Networks*
*these two courses provide students with some basic practical knowledge and training in ICT related security issues. Students do not need to have an computing science background to do these courses.

Social and Cultural Perspectives

Provides students with the opportunity to examine global security from a critical perspective, reflecting on social and cultural aspects and constructions of ‘security’. Important to this pathway will be an interrogation of the relationship between security, vulnerability and the ethics of care.
Specialised courses within this pathway include:
– Critical Perspectives on Securities and Vulnerabilities
– A range of related electives

Strategy and Defence

Provides students with the opportunity to examine shifts in Western strategic thought in both a historical and contemporary setting. Particular attention will be given to how strategy and defence is currently developing within a new interdependent global context.
Specialised courses within this pathway include:
– Comparative Approaches to Warfare and Violent Conflict 
– The American Way of War: from Revolution to the War on Terror
– A range of related electives

Background and aims

Why should you study Global Security?

If you want to develop your knowledge of the broad-based security challenges impacting our rapidly changing social and political environment at a local, national and global level then the MSc in Global Security is for you.

Individuals on the  MSc in Global Security will have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of disciplinary approaches to the study of security ranging from politics and international relations, to area studies, law, history, public health, human geography and computing science and information communications technology.

How will you benefit?

Graduates from this programme are likely to move into careers with governmental and non-governmental organisations, the media, business and international/transnational organisations.

All students on the programme will benefit from some research skills training which will go a long way to supporting students wanting to take advantage of the opportunities available for individuals wanting to develop a career in academia.  Many students taking this programme go on to pursue PhD research at the University of Glasgow or other leading research universities in the UK and beyond.

Why should you study with us?

Staff teaching on the MSc Global Security are drawn from schools and subject areas across all four Colleges of the University of Glasgow, including Politics, Sociology, Central and East European Studies (College of Social Sciences); History/War Studies, Theology (College of Arts); Public Health (College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences); and Geographical and Earth Sciences, Computing Science (College of Science and Engineering).  All of these subject areas are known for their research and teaching quality, often being recognised as being among the top schools in their field within the UK and with highly respected and strong international profiles.

Students on the MSc Global security also have the opportunity to avail of support to apply for employability and internship opportunities within a range of international organisations working on issues and areas reflecting the content of the MSc Global Security.

Want to know more?

If you are thinking about taking this programme then you might consider visiting our Facebook page where you can click ‘like this’ button and then be updated regularly about upcoming events, application deadlines, video lectures and podcasts and dates of online chats with staff teaching on the programme.

What our students say

Callum Davis, UK (2012-13)

‘After completing my undergraduate degree in politics I decided that in order to improve my career prospects, I had to attain a further qualification in a more contemporary area of politics. Through weeks of looking through different course and university options, I decided the Global Security programme at the University of Glasgow was the most attractive course for what I wanted. I contacted the School of Social and Political Sciences with many questions related to the degree, each of which was answered quickly and informatively. I decided to apply and was delighted to be accepted.

As part of the course, a field trip is available for students, that involves experiencing a host of EU institutions and NGOs. It was a very interesting experience, demonstrating the excellence of the University that we had the opportunity to hear from such influential people.

Christopher Brooks, UK (2011-12)

‘I applied to the University of Glasgow because of its internationally respected reputation. I knew that a qualification from Glasgow would carry weight wherever I went in the future.

I live locally and know the city and the area around the university. I think it’s a great student city and would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone.

In the MSc Global Security, I liked the number of pathways you could choose depending on your interests. If you have an idea of what you want to do in the future the pathways give you the ability to pick a route that’s more suitable. I really enjoyed the sheer variety of topics covered. Every class was different and interesting. I learned to think about the security issues we all face everyday such as employment and what type of society we live in, as well as conventional security threats.

Alister Forman, UK (2011-12)

‘Knowing very little about the University, I chose to attend one of the postgraduate open days to get a better feel for the city and the University. It was my first time in the West End, a really bohemian part of the city in which I immediately felt at home. Glasgow is an eclectic and diverse city and it continues to surprise me, I find it immensely appealing. With the development of the postgraduate social space, it will be good to see the University catering more specifically to the requirements of the postgraduate community.

The range of optional courses in the MSc Global Security is absolutely second to none; this was one of my main reasons for choosing it. The truly interdisciplinary courses draw from expertise across the University to offer a stimulating and engaging programme that is contemporary and relevant in character.

Helen Swan, UK (2011-12)

‘Having completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow I already knew I loved the campus, and that the course would be really well put together with fantastic teaching staff. The campus is always lively and buzzing with student activity, providing a great atmosphere with lots to do.

A great thing about my MSc programme is its interdisciplinary nature. My fellow classmates come from a variety of degree disciplines and this makes discussion more rounded and interesting. The mixture of ages and experience is also great as everyone has something different to offer.’

Guest speakers and events

Annual Study Tour to Brussels

Individuals on programme will also have the opportunity to undertake a study tour of Brussels some of the main centres of security coordination. In 2012 students and staff from the MSc and MRes Global Security visited a wide range of Brussels based security institutions. Major speakers included Dr Massimo Mauro – Special Cybersecurity Advisor to the Council of the EU General Secretariat; Nicholas Whyte – Director of the Independent Diplomat; and Jamie Shea – Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Emerging Security Challenging NATO Headquarters, who had just returned from the NATO Summit in Chicago and was able to give us a first-hand overview of some of the issues that were discussed at that major international event. Other talks were given by staff from the European External Action Service, the European Commission’s DG for Energy, the United Nations Liaison Office for Peace and Security, the Hungarian Permanent Representation to the EU, Political and Security Committee, the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre, the EU Military Staff, IBM’s Institute for Advanced Security Europe, and the International Security Information Service. It was a thoroughly enjoyable week were students were able to listen to, question and chat with some of Europe’s top security experts. As one student put it “Even if I had only been here for one day rather than five, it would have been worth it!”

For pictures from the 2012 study tour please visit our Facebook page

Global Security Master Class Seminar Series

The programme also includes the “Global Security Master Class Series” where high profile professionals and academics working in the field of security speak directly, yet informally, with students in a small scale setting. Speakers during 2011/2012 have included Mr James Kearney (United Nations Association for the UK) who spoke on Nuclear non-proliferation, Prof. Joseph Konvitz (OECD) who spoke on risk management, Dr William Webster (University of Stirling) who spoke on the Surveillance Society, Mr Brian Harris (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), Professor Julie Fitzpatrick (Moredun Research Institute) and Mr David Robson (Scottish Government) who all spoke on Food Security, Prof Richard English (St Andrews University) who spoke on terrorism, Mr David S Muir (Former Downing Street Strategist) who spoke on Political Strategy and Security, and Mr David Pratt (Foreign Editor herald Scotland) who spoke on embedded media in conflict zones. The master class series has included numerous other speakers and students also have the opportunity to attend the Annual Global Security Lecture which was given in 2011 by Professor Hew Strachan (University of Oxford) on the Changing Nature of War.

Careers Prospects

You can move into careers such as working with governmental and non-governmental organisations, business and international/transnational organisations. Recent graduates have gone on to work for the BBC, the United Nations, the UK armed forces, a US based research agency and UK based private security and risk analysis companies. Others have gone to undertake a PhD.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU) 24 July 2015
  • UK and EU applications 28 August 2015
    (with the exception of those programmes offering SFC funded places)

Classes start September 2015 for most programmes and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Entry requirements

For entry in 2015

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20*
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:

Visa requirements and proof of English language level

It is a visa requirement to provide information on your level of English based on an internationally recognised and secure English language test. All test reports must be no more than 2 years old. A list of these can be found on the UK Border Agency website. If you have never taken one of these tests before, you can get an initial idea of your level by using the Common European Framework self-assessment grid which gives you a level for each skill (e.g. listening B1/writing B2 etc.) However, please note that this is not a secure English language test and it is not sufficient evidence of your level of English for visa requirements.

If you require a Tier 4 student visa, your qualification must be one of the secure English language tests accepted by UK Border Agency:

For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What essential documentation should I have available before I start my application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.
Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2015-16 (subject to change and for guidance only)


Home and EU

Full time fee = £6800

Part time 20 credits = £756


Full time fee = £14500

Funding opportunities