Global Security MSc

Army Humvee silhouette

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

Why this programme

  • 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

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?

Facebook icon 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

Seamus Russell, USA (2013-14)

'I was immediately interested in the University of Glasgow for both its reputation as a world-class academic institution, the vast offering of postgraduate study options and that it offered postgraduate programmes which could be completed in a year’s time versus the two-year programme typically offered at universities in the United States. I was also enamoured by Glasgow city’s indelible charm and it didn’t hurt that the university campus favoured a fictional school of wizardry either. 

I was drawn towards this programme since my primary interest is in information technology security. The course offered an in-depth opportunity to explore the various and complex security issues influencing international relations. Given the nature of current and emerging threats to international security, this programme provided a host of pathways to choose from in the exploration of various security themes.  I was permitted to develop my own niche of study in the field of cyber security while obtaining a greater comprehension of the multitude of threats which affect us all around the world. We were also offered a chance to visit Brussels, an interesting opportunity to meet with EU agencies and other international organisations.


I found my experience at the University of Glasgow to be enlightening and inspirational on many levels. The exposure to subjects such as International Relations, Thematic Issues in Global Security and War History provided a well-rounded view of security, threats and conflict. The multidisciplinary approach also afforded me the cherished opportunity to learn from some of the best academic minds in their chosen fields, as well as from my colleagues, who came from a wide range of nations and backgrounds.

If I had the chance, I would do it again with no hesitation. The work was demanding, yet fulfilling. I would undoubtedly recommend attending the University of Glasgow to anyone who is looking for an educational experience of a lifetime and willing dedicate themselves to the study to improve the world in which we live.

Since graduating, I have resumed my career in IT security. My understanding of the field has now gone beyond the technical scope to encompass theoretical considerations I was previously unaware of or would consider in my professional role. I have been able to confidently take on greater and more complex problems and am more confident in challenging common thought on existing processes and procedures.  I am able to evaluate the issue while taking a fresh and differing approach towards securing systems and data. Obtaining my Master degree from the University of Glasgow has also allowed me greater visibility in the workplace, as I have attended a University not typically known to Americans, but which has been a sentinel of academia for centuries.'

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.


I have found the programme to be exactly what I wanted. The modules are intensive and engaging, and I have benefited especially from the quality of the discussion from other students and the discursive structure of the classes in general.

The master classes and guest lectures have been of an exceptional standard, with the School able to get very influential people to present on issues related to class topics, which allows for students to engage with relevant issues on a level that very few other degrees could offer.

Furthermore, as my main reason for choosing to do a master's programme was to improve my career options, I was very impressed with the opportunities the Global Security course was able to offer, with a range of internships and collaborative dissertations available to students.'

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.


The master classes offered an interesting insight from scholars, experts and politicians into the workings of the security world. I especially enjoyed a visit from Gordon Brown’s political advisor in which we could question him closely on all manner of subjects.

I feel very lucky to have come into a course in which there are people who are really motivated and supportive. This counts as much for the teaching staff as for my classmates. It’s a refreshing and inspiring environment to work in.'

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.


The pathways came highly recommended and gave me the opportunity to sharpen the focus of my programme. This has really challenged me to think about what the most important issues are in the world today and, as such, has completely transformed my opinions on the problems that really matter.

The Master Classes are an integral part of the programme. Focussing on a range of contemporary issues from food security to anti-nuclear strategy, they provide an insight into the sorts of areas you could go into after the MSc. Having the opportunity to listen to experts brought together with non-academic practitioners, you really feel you are at the cutting edge of some of the central debates in Security Studies.

The workload is challenging but no less than you’d expect at this level of study. In global security you quickly realise that there are no easy answers, but that is part of the attraction in doing it! The balance of assessments makes the challenge more interesting, with the opportunity to tailor your studies to issues of personal interest. In addition, the style of assessment is quite broad across the programme - for example you can try your hand at policy aspects, commentary pieces and group work - this makes the work more engaging and gives you a more comprehensive skillset.

One of my favourite things has been the wide range of extra-curricular seminars through GHRN and the Global Security Roundtable. These are frequently given by very high profile speakers on some of the most contemporary issues.

I think at postgraduate level you come to have a greater appreciation for and interest in the work that takes place in your field of study and in the University at large. It is a privilege to be taught by some of the smartest people we have ever met, and refreshing to be taught in fun, engaging and innovative ways.'

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. 

The Changing Character of War [mp4]

Entry requirements

for entry in 2016

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

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • 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
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's English for Academic Study Unit offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


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

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Alumni discount

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni applying to the MSc. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Funding opportunities

Career 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.

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 documents do I need to provide to make an 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) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • 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)
  • A two-page personal statement highlighting:
    • How your academic career to-date makes this programme a suitable next step
    • Why you want to study this programme
    • How you think this programme will help you in your future career development

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

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

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

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.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught 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. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • 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.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now