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MScGeopolitics and Security

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Interested? To learn more about this study programme, entry requirements and application process, please contact one of our consultants in a country nearest to you.

Programme structure

Core modules
Principles of Geopolitics and Security
In this module you will develop an understanding of the theoretical concepts and thinkers at the heart of the study of geopolitics and security. You will look at the key objects, sites and agents of geopolitics and security, looking at the historical evolution and contemporary theorisation of these. You will explore the coeval development of geopolitics and security studies, considering post-structuralist theory in the early 1990s and the development of critical and popular geopolitics and securitisation theory. You will examine the conversations between geopolitics and security studies, and analyse the deepening and widening of these debates through object-centred philosophy, material relations and limits of representation.

Research Design in Geopolitics and Security
In this module you will develop an understanding of the processes and practices of research design in geopolitics and security. You will look at the principles and procedures that guide scholars and professionals as they conduct research, the kinds of questions they ask, the broader conceptual and empirical contextual framing of a project, the variety of decisions that they must make, and the broader sets of research methods of data acquisition, analysis and communication, they select and employ.

The dissertation gives you the opportunity to study an aspect of geopolitics and security in-depth by managing and carrying out your own piece of research and analysis. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor who will help you develop your research aims and objectives, identify bodies of relevant literature, establish a particular strang of conceptual thought, and select appropriate research methods for the collection and analysis of data. You will produce an extended written report of 15,000 words, and will be encouaged to work with an external organisation to build a network of contacts and relationships to facilitate your future career.

Optional modules
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Introduction to Quantitative Research 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
In this module you will develop an understanding of research methods used by social scientists. You will take a broad look at their approach to the research process and explore a range of key methods, considering practical considerations for these, their benefits and challenges, their epistomological basis, and their ethics. You will complete a 5,000 word report reflecting on each of the methods you encounter.

Resilience and the Governing of Emergency
In this module you will develop an understanding of the politics, policies and practices of resilience. You will look at how emergencies are governed through their articulation in an evolving apparatus of resilience discourses, techniques and technologies in liberal-democratic societies. You will consider relevant literature in geopolitics and international relations, examining a variety of perspectives on resilience, from its emergence in post-war cybernetics, political-economic theory and industrial unrest, to contemporary legislation, planning practices, scenario building and simulated training experiences.

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.

United States 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
In this module you will put your knowledge of sustainable development and research methods into practice through a piece of independent research based on primary data collection in the UK or overseas. You will consider the choice of methodology and examine the limitations of the chosen methods. You will analyse the primary data and communicate your research findings in written form using figures and diagrams where appropriate.

Media and the Military
In this module you will develop an understanding of the history, strategies and technologies of the inter-relationship between media and military institutions. You will look at the develoment and management of information and communication in moments of crisis, taking part in a ‘live scenario’ simulation. Working in small teams, you will consider the structure and content of military campaigns and media reporting. You will prepare an action plan and given a presentation in which you analyse a complex crisis scenario with a particular focus on media and military narratives.

Sovereignty, Rights and Justice
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 trace the evolution of non-state violence, reasons for its existence and its impact. You will analyse examples of civil war parties, rebel groups, terrorists and warlords, looking at non-state violence in the historical contexts of changed warfare and new concepts of security. You will develop an understanding of why non-state violence occurs, including individual and group-level factors, and discuss global and national conditions that facilitate the emergence and continued presence of non-state violence, and the possibilities to counter this.

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.

Career opportunities

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.

Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you
Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you