Security Studies - MA

Full Time, Part Time
September 2019

The subject of security has considerable contemporary relevance, both nationally and internationally. A long and diverse list of issues have been characterised as security threats from warfare to global warming.

On this Masters you will consider events such as these across a range of different perspectives discussing their implications for security at the international, national and local levels as well as their relevance to different actors such as the state and the individual. 

For example, the ongoing Syrian civil war and the breakdown of the Syrian state may represent a security risk for the UK by giving groups likes ISIS the space to operate and potentially attack the West.  However, if we alter our focus we quickly become aware of a range of different insecurities felt by civilians displaced from their homes and struggling to survive as a result of the conflict.

What's covered in the course?

The MA Security Studies course takes a detailed and critical approach to the study of security, incorporating all of these different perspectives within a contemporary and international context.  On this course, you will get a mix of the traditional focuses of the discipline such as conflict between states and theories of international relations, new security challenges such as cybersecurity and an opportunity to reflect upon what security is, who or what it is for and the impacts of practicing security.

If you opt to undertake this course, you will get the opportunity to study this diverse subject with academics who have an equally diverse range of research informed expertise, including war and modern conflict, terrorism and counterterrorism, cybersecurity, European foreign affairs, and intelligence and surveillance. 

Alongside this, you will receive dedicated research training and practice throughout the degree that will prepare you for the dissertation as well as develop essential transferable skills that will allow for you to standout in the job market as well as providing you with the necessary tools should you wish to continue within academia.

Why Choose Us?

  • You will critically explore the concept of security, asking what it is, who it is for and what it entails.
  • You’ll get to learn about issues of contemporary and international significance that reflect the breadth of the discipline from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to climate change.
  • You’ll experience research-led teaching and study alongside a team of academics with diverse expertise who are actively publishing in the field.
  • Separate yourself within the job marketplace by demonstrating to potential employers your academic commitment, expertise and transferable skills, such as research training and practice.
  • Birmingham City University has just launched the UK's first Centre for Brexit Studies, researching all aspects of the UK's vote to leave the EU, including the impact it has on hate crime and national security in the UK.

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 25 November 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

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Didn't make it to an Open Day? You still have the opportunity to come and see what our postgraduate courses have to offer. If you would like to enquire about campus tour availability, just drop us an email.

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Entry Requirements

UK students

A second class degree from a UK University or international equivalent.

Exceptions will be made on a case by case basis should a student possess enough relevant professional experience.

EU / International students
English language requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
Other accepted qualifications Visit our English language page
International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 Year £8,100 per year
PT 2 Years
Register your interest

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 Year £12,300 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements


Fees for part time students

If you study this course part-time or via distance learning, you will be charged on a pro-rata basis. This means your fee will be calculated per module.

Additional costs

While there are no additional costs associated with purchasing text books, there may be other costs to you. If you are joining the course which has a professional body accreditation you may be required to pay membership or examination costs. For details of these costs, please click on the link below.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Core Modules

Security and International Relations Theory
20 credits

This module is designed to develop within students a detailed understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of Security Studies in International Relations through an examination of the various different schools of thought that exist within the discipline. 

This module serves a core function within the MA Security Studies programme giving you the requisite knowledge and understanding to appreciate the major discussion and debates within the field as well as a deep understanding of the nuance, diversity and complexity contained within the essentially contested nature of security.  The module begins with a discussion surrounding the nature of security before moving on to consider a wide array of different theories that take you from the orthodoxy surrounding the study of security to the explicitly critical approaches.

Contemporary Security
20 credits

This module gives you a chance to study a series of genuinely contemporary and often ongoing issues within security that vary from individual case studies, events or overarching themes. 

The module reflects the interests and research expertise of the teaching team to give students an eclectic and varied module that builds on the theoretical insights they gained in Security and International Relations Theory and apply these to present day case studies.  The module, therefore, challenges you to apply your knowledge of the discipline in a variety of radically different scenarios from the UK based to the international, from traditional security to security in its broader and more critical incarnations.  

International Institutions and Security
20 credits

Cooperation among countries in order to create a peaceful world has been pursued for over a century. However, the creation of international institutions has also provoked unexpected and expected international security problems.

This module examines the link between International Institutions and Security Studies. It also examines Institutionalism theories and illustrates several case-studies. This module will address specific questions that are relevant both for practitioners and academics working in the security arena in the 21st century. I.e.  Is the United Nations outdated? Should we have an European Army? Does NATO create problems with Putin’s Russia?

Research Methods
20 credits

This module is designed to enable you to develop an understanding of the research process and the nature and variety of research methods together with the need for an evidence base to guide decision making process. 

Its characteristic features are to encourage you to see qualitative and quantitative methods as equally valuable and often complementary and to involve you, wherever possible, in using and applying the methods rather than merely talking about them.

Researching Crime and Security
20 credits

This module builds upon the basic practical research skills acquired in the ‘Research Methods’ module and critically considers central areas of contemporary Crime and Security research. 

In order to do this, you are expected to be involved in individual and collective learning opportunities provided in the module and then work both individually and collaboratively to deliver a research tender.  Correspondingly, this module mimics the ‘real world’ processes that are significant and useful in both statutory and non-governmental employment where a significant proportion of both time and turnover is often given to managing strategic tenders and undertaking detailed research.

Dissertation in Security Studies
60 credits

This module provides you with the opportunity to carry out a self-directed, empirical and critical investigation of a specific Security Studies topic presented as an extended written piece of work.

Students will engage in empirical research or conduct a literature based research project where they will be required to demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues arising in particular research situations, manage empirical data, show systematic and critical ability to synthesis both theoretical and methodological knowledge (the latter applied in praxis). The dissertation marks the culmination of the Masters degree and each project is overseen by an academic member of staff acting as the research supervisor.     

Optional Modules

Please note that these option modules are subject to staff and student numbers, and are therefore subject to change.

Terrorism, Political Violence and Extremism
20 credits

This module will offer you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the sources, dynamics and consequences of contemporary political violence, and to consider the significance of terrorism and conflict within the broader realm of politics and international relations. 

This module will examine and explore some conceptual, theoretical and methodological themes associated with contemporary conflict locating these themes within a historical survey of civil war, insurgency and armed political resistance. In addition, while the module will put a particular focus on the policy dimensions of counter-terrorism within the UK, the module will also cater to students who are interested in taking a conceptually ‘critical’ approach to the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism, exploring the methodological challenges inherent in this scholarship, and questioning the assumptions which underpin mainstream approaches. 

Security in the Digital Age
20 credits

This module will examine the intersection between digital technology and security in the contemporary era bringing together a range of topics and issues subsumed under the heading “cybersecurity”. Innovation in the field of digital technology has enhanced how security is performed but has also created opportunity for security breaches and the eroding of international norms and civil liberties.

The module offers a comprehensive overview of the capabilities of digital security and the improved operationalisation of security as well as considering how these developments can be exploited to pose potential insecurities of their own.  The module will examine a range of different debates including the security and insecurity brought on by innovation in the field of digital technologies and the tensions that exist between how security is performed and how we can begin to understand freedoms and liberties and how these may be affected by particular security agendas.

Students will also be able to select one of the Criminology option modules as their option if they wish – the option modules for Criminology are included below

Homicide and Violent Organised Crime
20 credits

This module provides you with an opportunity to critically engage with some of the key contemporary debates that surround the phenomenon of homicide and multiple homicide, as well as a range of separate and related forms of Organised Violent Crime. 

You will be encouraged to investigate how various perspectives have generated your own arguments in an attempt to understand this unique form of offending. The module will make significant use of various case studies of serial murderers, violent crimes and organised crime in both a historical and contemporary setting, whilst also engaging in a discussion about how academic understanding and society has developed during this time.

Understanding Domestic and Sexual Violence
20 credits

This module utilises a range of theoretical frameworks and empirical case studies to examine a complex range of abusive behaviours, from coercive control to revenge pornography. 

Moreover, the module provides you with a detailed and critical engagement with the many various theoretical aspects of domestic and sexual abuse, focusing in particular on issues of definition, nature, extent and the impact of this behaviour.  A mixture of different teaching and learning techniques are used on the module to assist students in understanding the process of identifying, assessing and managing both perpetrators and victims of both sexual and domestic (or intimate partner) violence.  

Each module has four hours of teaching and learning attributed to it per week.  These hours are delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, online virtual learning environment content, directed reading, one-to-one supervision and independent/small group-led learning.  In the first two semesters  you will take three 20 credit modules that will all be delivered on one day during the week.  

Further Study

After completing your Masters, you could move on to a PhD within the School of Social Sciences.

The teaching team draws on the combined with the expertise of members of the Centre for Applied Criminology, who will give you cutting-edge criminological knowledge from their impactful and high-profile research, as well as giving you excellent access to experienced practitioners and Criminal Justice System organisations.

The access provided to professionals, the presence of practitioners among fellow students and the capacity to reflect upon relevant volunteering or work experience within the structure of the course means that the course provides excellent opportunities for building contacts and networking, as well as developing opportunities for employment.

The School of Social Sciences has relationships with a number of criminal justice agencies and non-government organisations, including the local Community Safety Partnership, HMP Grendon and the Howard League.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

*DLHE Survey 2016/17

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

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Curzon facilities staircase
Curzon facilities student hub

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Curzon Building

This course is based at our City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other social sciences, law, business and English students.

The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.

Realistic, simulated environments include two mock court rooms, a Magistrates' and Crown Court, and an interviewing suite. We’re also exploring the use of virtual environments as a way to develop case study analysis.

For those studying on the BA (Hons) Policing or BA (Hons) Criminology, Policing and Investigation degrees, you’ll experience simulations of police interviewing environments for both suspects and witnesses, with access to tape recording and video playback analysis.

Crime investigation files are prepared using computer-based technology, and the crime data analysis requirements of the degree are supported by appropriate statistical and analytical software.

Psychology students can look forward to using state-of-the-art equipment as well, including the latest in eye-tracking software, and our new EEG machine, all geared towards giving you true hands-on experience with tools you’ll be using in your later career. You will also benefit from facilities across the wider campus including the Parkside and Millennium Point buildings.

The Curzon Building also features:

  • An impressive new library with access to over 65 million full text items and stunning views of Eastside City Park
  • Your Students’ Union which is located in a beautifully restored 19th century pub, The Eagle and Ball
  • A modern 300-seat food court with space to study and socialise
  • Brand new, accessible IT facilities with full Office365 for all students for free

Andrew Whiting Staff Profile Picture 100x150

Dr Andrew Whiting

Senior Lecturer in Security Studies and Criminology

Dr Andrew Whiting has been working at Birmingham City University since August 2015 having previously lectured at Swansea University. Andrew currently teaches a number of Security Studies modules within the Criminology Department.

Dr John Bahadur Lamb

Lecturer in Criminology and Security Studies and Admissions Tutor

John Bahadur Lamb has been a member of staff at Birmingham City University since 2010, first in a part time capacity and then full time from January 2013. In 2014, he was nominated for Extra Mile awards at Birmingham City University for his teaching.

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Professor Imran Awan

Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology

Imran's areas of expertise are based around the impact of Islamophobia and the effects of counter-terrorism. As well as being a regular face in the media, Imran is a government advisor for the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred.

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Dr Arantza Gomez Arana


Arantza joined Birmingham City University as a full-time lecturer in September 2014. She previously worked as a Research Associate at the University of Glasgow, where she completed her PhD.

Dr Keith Spiller

Programme Director MA in Security Studies

Dr Keith Spiller's research examines the internationalisation of crime and terror prevention. Focuses have included the regulation of international industries and impacts on organisational and operational practices, as well as the production and consequences of security rhetoric.