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International Relations and Security

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What you'll need

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Master of Arts

A Master of Arts (MA) is a master’s degree awarded for a postgraduate programme in the arts.

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Course overview

This MA offers a fantastic opportunity for postgraduate students from across the world to join in and learn about contemporary debates on the meaning of security, democracy and the role of political processes in International Relations.


This MA programme offers a brilliant opportunity for you to enhance your career prospects by learning about international relations, academic methods and contemporary security debates.

One of the key characteristics of the programme is flexibility and choice, which allows you to pursue your own particular areas of interest through our optional pathways, which draw on the expert knowledge of staff in the Department of Politics i.e. International Relations and Security, Conflict Resolution and Political Communication.

The Department of Politics at the University of Liverpool has an internationally recognised expertise on topics of international relations and security. We have a unique combination of expertise in international relations theory, non-state actor violence and resolution of conflicts.

The department puts a strong emphasis on high quality teaching. Classroom seminars and lectures are designed interactively and centre around student engagement. Likewise teaching staff are passionate about making complicated matters of international relations accessible to students.

Who is this course for?

The MA is ideal for graduates in Politics studies or other social science degrees who want to increase their knowledge in international relations and contemporary security debates.

What you'll learn

  • Advanced knowledge of a specific international relations topic(s) and/or region(s) of the world in which you have an interest in
  • Advanced expertise in a variety of significant topics in the sphere of international relations and security
  • To apply research methods in the field of social sciences to the study of international relations
  • To critically assess key concepts in the literature on international relations and security studies
  • To apply concepts in the field of international relations and security studies to the analysis of contemporary developments in the international sphere
  • Advanced understanding of the dynamics of contemporary international relations in one (or more) region(s) of the world.

Course content

Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Studying this course part-time

International students may be able to study this course on a part-time basis but this is dependent on visa regulations. Please visit the Government website for more information about student visas.

If you're able to study part-time, you'll study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.

Studying part-time means you can study alongside work or any other life commitments. You will study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.

Semester one

You will take 30 credits of required modules and 30 credits of optional modules in Semester one.

Optional module ENVS434 is a ‘year-long’ module and represents 7.5 credits in each semester, 15 credits in total.

Students may take optional modules from other relevant subject areas with approval of the Subject Lead.

Compulsory modules


Credits: 30 / Semester: semester 1

This module surveys the main theories in the academic discipline of International Relations (IR). It adopts a quasi-chronological approach, beginning with the philosophical roots of IR theories and ending with contemporary theoretical debates. Attention will be paid throughout to the historical and social context from which theoretical developments emerged, and how these are relevant or useful in our understanding of contemporary security issues. The aim is to equip students with the necessary conceptual and analytical tools that can then be applied to their own specific areas of interest or field of research. By the end of the module students should be able to understand the key theoretical debates in the subject of IR.

Optional modules

Big data and society B: foundations, politics, and policy (COMM752)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module will be of particular interest to students interested in big data and how it is collected and used in modern society; in the politics and policy questions around social media; and in the interactions between media, platforms, and citizens. It will introduce students to the study of online media and platforms, with a particular focus on ‘big’ social trace data. As well as developing their understanding of how Internet-based media systems work, students will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of using big data for social science research, and engage with key online political communication policy questions.

Media and Politics: Theories and Cases B (COMM765)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

The module examines a range of interconnected issues concerning the politics/media relationship. It offers a critical overview of the ways in which the media have been studied and discussed in relation to political processes and explores the key aspects of contemporary theory and research in politics and media. Part one is devoted to theories and debates about the politics and media relationship. It examines different ways of making sense of the relationship between the state, the public, and the media and questions surrounding media power and media audiences. Part two focuses on specific cases and controversies in the media-politics relations. It explores the changing relationships, representational forms, power dynamics, and impacts of media performance in selected forms of contemporary ‘conflict’.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

The module provides students with in-depth specialist knowledge of the principles and structure of international law, with a special emphasis on law-making processes. It offers a selected introduction to the field by placing the issues covered into the political and historical context of international relations. The module features discussions of some of today’s most debated theoretical and practical international legal issues against the backdrop of multiple international, regional and domestic legal and policy frameworks. They include the evolving role of international law in international affairs, the forms of law making, the ever increasing number of actors involved, the expansion of international adjudication, the creation of states, the various faces of sovereignty, and the impact of international law on domestic systems.

Each lecture addresses selected elements of these debates and the basic principles underpinning them. Examples of basic questions include: What is international law? Is international law really law? How did it develop as a body of rules separate from domestic law? What types of norms define the international legal order? What are the main international decision making processes and who are the actors involved? What are the manifestations of state sovereignty and how do states exercise sovereignty from the perspective of international law and relations? How does international law affect domestic law? What is the status of international law within domestic legal orders? How is international law enforced? Or when can states be held liable for their wrongful conduct?


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module looks at the international politics of the Middle East, focusing primarily onidentity and security issues. At a general level, it seeks to provide a comprehensive account of the issues on the security agenda of governments and international organizations at a time of turbulence and change in the Arabworld. It takes the broader view of security as understood within the field of International Relations. Thus, in addition to the study of causes of conflict and co-operation, it is concerned with a wider range of issues that have the potential to bring greater political stability or instability. The nature of regimes and the significance of democratisation efforts for regional stabilityare central concerns of the module. It involves analysis of state structures, the pattern of relations between states, the political economy, new transnational movements, the role of identity and belief systems and the involvement of external powers.Special attention is paid to the Arab-Israeli conflict and other regional conflicts.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

The majority of teaching will be delivered face-to-face on campus. Online delivery will be used to complement the on-campus delivery and where technology affords a better learning experience.

This module requires students to engage with contemporary forms of exploitation often categorised as ‘slavery’, to consider the origins and human experience of such activities, to assess proposals for combating them, and to apply these to an independent research project. Seminars will challenge students to analyse the major themes in legal and political responses to trafficking, forced labour and other forms of human rights abuse analogous to slavery. Students will develop strategies for researching practices and policies relating to contemporary ‘slaveries’ and they will develop an independent study of a particular aspect.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module aims to acquaint students with terrorism and counter-terrorism in today’s world. It starts by examining key concepts, theories, and history and then moves on to looking at a range of issues that have been the subject of particular debate, such as whether terrorism works, whether there are regularities in how campaigns end, and the necessity and contributions of literature on ‘Critical Terrorism Studies’. The module concludes by looking at whether we are at the end of the religious wave of terrorism and what we might expect to occur next.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Conflicts, terrorism and wars have plagued human societies since their inception: which factors are likely to explain their occurrence and duration of wars? How are civil wars different from inter-state and ethnic conflicts? Who is more likely to become a terrorist? How does the public react to terrorist attacks? How do states respond to terror? This course examines a number of theoretical and empirical debates in the study of conflict and terrorism. We will investigate how empirical analyses can help settling some debates while others remain still open. By the end of this module, students are expected to (1) develop an understanding of the major explanations for conflicts and terrorism and critically discuss their strengths and shortcomings (2) interpret the findings advanced by the empirical literature against or in line with the discussed theoretical predictions (and students’ own pre-theoretical intuitions) (3) get exposed to the data and techniques employed by empirical scholarship to investigate conflict and terrorism.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Please note: this is a theory and method heavy course and the application of both will be a mandatory requirement for the assignment(s). Students should be prepared to devote considerable time to familiarize themselves with methods and theory.

Civil war is the most common form of armed conflict today. While around thirty interstate wars have been fought since World War II, over one hundred civil wars have been recorded. Scholars have long focused their attention on civil conflict, producing a large body of literature on different aspects of civil war, e.g. exploring onset, duration, strategies, outcomes and termination, the formation of rebel groups, and the various forms of intervention in civil war. The module will introduce students to this body of research.

Substantially, the module is divided into four parts. The first part provides an introduction to the study of civil war and an extensive methods discussion. The latter will emphasis concepts and measurement, causal assessment, and case selection. In the second part of the module, we will look at civil war onset. War is a costly and risky endeavor, and rebels face particularly steep odds going up against states that are typically far more powerful. Why do they occur? The third part explores the dynamics in civil wars. Why do parties target civilians? When do civil wars spill over? The fourth part looks at the end of wars and termination of conflict. Why do some civil wars last longer than others? Why do some end in a negotiated settlement while others do not? Does outside intervention facilitate the termination of civil wars and prevent their recurrence?


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module explores the role of the EU as an international actor in the sphere of foreign policy, international relations, and security and defence. It analyses the historical development of EU foreign policy and its various dimensions, the main institutions and players involved, but also the different roles the EU assumes when acting internationally, and how it relates to regional and global partners. The module delves into some critical questions about the nature of the EU- whether it actually is an actor capable of making a distinct foreign policy- and whether any policy-making at EU level, particularly in matters of security and defence, is legitimate. This module can build on previous knowledge about EU history and integration or can provide new and specialised knowledge about this organisation’s foreign policy.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module follows the evolution of the field of conflict studies: from the early adoption of an IR framework of bargaining to explaining conflicts within states, to testing structural, country-level correlates of conflict resolution or recurrence, to the recognition of multidimensional conflicts and the shift toward dyadic data, and finally, to the recent focus on armed group fluidity and theories about how rebel spoiling, splintering, and alliances lead conflicts to take new forms.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module requires students to engage with the politics around children’s rights and their ‘best interests’ in contemporary world. It explores how childhood is conceptualised and experienced in different contexts, examines debates about children’s rights, and analyses child protection policies and practices as canvassed by governments, NGOs, and INGOs.

Programme details and modules listed are illustrative only and subject to change.

Our curriculum

The Liverpool Curriculum framework sets out our distinctive approach to education. Our teaching staff support our students to develop academic knowledge, skills, and understanding alongside our graduate attributes:

  • Digital fluency
  • Confidence
  • Global citizenship

Our curriculum is characterised by the three Liverpool Hallmarks:

  • Research-connected teaching
  • Active learning
  • Authentic assessment

All this is underpinned by our core value of inclusivity and commitment to providing a curriculum that is accessible to all students.

Your experience

You will benefit from the expertise and community found within the Department of Politics, which is based within the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures in 8-14 Abercromby Square. Students will be taught in a variety of building on campus.

Virtual tour

Supporting your learning

From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:

Why Politics at University of Liverpool?

  • We are able to offer an excellent range of modules providing both a national and international focus. Pathways offer students module choices to develop their own specialist interests
  • We are a small department that works to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Due to the small size of the seminar groups and the MA programmes in general, lecturers know students individually, and are easily accessible
  • The Department of Politics is home to the Europe and the World Research Centre, through which you will you will be able to take advantage of the strong programme of organised activities such as conferences, guest lectures, seminars
  • We aim to be a flexible and open department. We adopt a positive and flexible policy towards the postgraduate requirements of overseas and/or part-time students, including effective timetabling on taught programmes and facilitation of language training.

Careers and employability

Student career development is a major interest for the department and we actively encourage you to integrate career planning into your academic studies. The International Relations and Security MA provides you with analytical skills and empirical knowledge to equip you for a range of chosen careers, including, but not limited to: diplomacy, journalism, the military, as well as the non-governmental sphere. The MA also delivers ideal training if you are interested in an academic career in doctoral research.

If you have a professional background in any of these (or other relevant) areas, the MA provides you with the opportunity for continuing professional development, whilst enabling you to bring your experiences to the cohort which will further enrich the programme.

Career planning

Three career coaches standing outside the Careers Studio

Our campus Career Studio is a space for students and graduates to drop into and talk to a career coach. Career coaches are highly trained to help no matter what stage you are at in your career planning. You can access support to find and apply for full-time and part-time roles, placements, internships and graduate schemes. You will also find the help you need if you have a start-up idea or want to create a business plan. You can explore the world of work, prepare for job interviews, and access careers events and workshops. The Career Studio is open Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm, simply drop in at a time that works for you.

From education to employment

Two graduates in postgraduate robes.

We develop our programmes with employers in mind. You will be supported to enhance your long-term employment prospects as you learn. We do this by exposing you to professionals, a variety of sectors and supporting you to work collaboratively with others to develop transferable skills. You are equipped with a clearer view of what to focus on in your area of interest, and to reflect on your studies. Our digital employability tools give you a tech-enhanced curriculum experience and make it easy for you to prepare for the world of work. You can use tools like the Handshake platform to connect with employers and message the Career Studio 24/7.

Networking events

Postgraduate students hold a discussion while sat round a table in in the Liverpool Guild of Students.

You can start building good professional networks by attending events and employability activities. Our events are designed to develop your skills and expose you to many different employers, as well as to help you make contacts in your field. We help you improve your confidence when speaking to employers and give you access to unique opportunities. Our networking events also boost your understanding of the competencies and skills that employers are looking for in their recruitment process, giving you a competitive edge.

Your future

Career options are wide and extensive, including working in:

  • Diplomacy
  • Journalism
  • National and international political organisations
  • Mental health charities
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Education
  • The military
  • Civil service
  • Political parties
  • Corporate organisations
  • Financial sector
  • Doctoral research.

Fees and funding

Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.

Tuition fees

UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)
Full-time place, per year £10,800
Part-time place, per year £5,400
International fees
Full-time place, per year £22,400
Part-time place, per year £11,200
Fees stated are for the 2024-25 academic year.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support.

If you're a UK national, or have settled status in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan worth up to £12,167 to help with course fees and living costs. Learn more about paying for your studies..

Additional costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.

Additional study costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.

Find out more about additional study costs.

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries that could help pay your tuition and living expenses.

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Postgraduate Global Advancement Scholarship

  • International students

If you’re a new international student starting this course with us from September 2024, you could be eligible to receive a discount of £5,000 off your tuition fees.

Graduate Loyalty Advancement Scholarship

  • Home and international students
  • University of Liverpool current students and alumni only

Completed your undergraduate degree, or studied as an undergraduate exchange student, at the University of Liverpool?

You could get a loyalty discount of up to £2,500 off the tuition fees for this course from September 2024 entry.

  • £1,500 tuition fee discount for eligible UK University of Liverpool graduates
  • £2,500 tuition fee discount for eligible international University of Liverpool graduates.

ANID Chile Scholarship

  • International students
  • Chile

Postgraduate taught and research students from Chile are eligible for this scholarship.

Chevening Scholarships

  • International students

The University, in partnership with Chevening, is delighted to offer this generous scholarship to students who are studying a master’s programme and who have future leadership potential. Please note that there is a fee cap applied to MBA programmes that requires applicants to cover any additional tuition costs over £18,000. You will still receive all additional allowances.


  • International students
  • Mexico

The University of Liverpool has an agreement with CONACYT to support postgraduate taught and research students from Mexico.


  • International students
  • Mexico

20% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate taught and research programmes. Must be Mexico national.

Fulbright Scholarship

  • International students
  • University of Liverpool alumni only
  • United States

One scholarship is available for a master’s student from the US and another is available for a postgraduate research student to undertake a three to six month research stay from the US

FUNED Awards

  • International students
  • Mexico

Up to ten awards are available for Masters or Research students from Mexico in receipt of FUNED loans. The award gives students a 20% reduction in fees for all applications received.

Graduate Association Hong Kong & Tung Postgraduate Scholarships

  • International students
  • China
  • Hong Kong

The University is able to offer competitive scholarships for both postgraduate taught master’s and research programmes.

HLC Scholarships for Postgraduate Study

  • Home and international students

The competition is open to all students who have applied for a relevant HLC programme by 3 July and commence study in the course in the first semester of 2023.

The HLC School comprises the following Departments:

  • Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology
  • History
  • Irish Studies
  • Languages, Cultures and Film
  • Politics

HRM Princess Sirindhorn University of Liverpool Scholarship (Thailand)

  • International students
  • Thailand

The University is able to offer one award to a new postgraduate taught master’s student from Thailand.

The scholarship is open to all subjects offered as a one-year taught master’s programme.  However, priority will be given to those students who wish to study in a subject area associated with HRH Princess Sirindhorn such as science, IT, medicine, the arts, geography, history and languages.

JuventudEsGto Scholarship

  • International students
  • Mexico

Residents of State of Guanajuato, Mexico, wishing to study at postgraduate taught and research levels are eligible for this scholarship.

Marshall Scholarship

  • International students
  • University of Liverpool alumni only
  • United States

One scholarship is available for a master’s student from the US to cover the cost of tuition fees. Another, to the value of £20,000, is available for Doctoral study visit:

Turkish Ministry of Education Scholarship

  • International students
  • Turkey

Postgraduate taught and research students from Turkey are eligible for this scholarship, see the Turkish Ministry of Education website for more information.

University of Liverpool Humanitarian Scholarships for Master’s Programmes

  • International students

The three awards available cover full tuition fees, visas and support for accommodation and living expenses.

This scholarship is open to support people who have recognised status as either refugees or are under humanitarian protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention. This status must be held outside of the UK.

The scholarship is open for all postgraduate-taught programmes, excluding medicine, dentistry, veterinary and nursing.

University of Liverpool International College Excellence Scholarship

  • International students

The University of Liverpool will award five University of Liverpool International College students, who achieve the highest academic excellence (minimum 75%) in their UoLIC Pre-Master’s programme, the prestigious UoLIC Excellence scholarship.

University of Liverpool International College Impact Progression Scholarships

  • International students

University of Liverpool International College recipients of the Kaplan awards will receive the £3,000 Progression Impact Scholarship, deducted from first-year tuition fees, on successful progression to their UoL degree programme.

To be eligible for our Impact Progression Scholarships, students must apply for one of the Kaplan Impact Scholarships demonstrating their commitment to making an impact across issues of importance to the University and Kaplan. Themes include:

Women in STEM
Career Focus (Employability)

Vice-Chancellor’s International Attainment Scholarship for China

  • International students
  • China

Details are:
1 (one) Full scholarship
2 (two) £10,000 scholarships
5 (five) £5,000 scholarships
10 (ten) £1,000 scholarships
All scholarships will be awarded after the formal registration at the University and will take the form of a fee waiver.

Please note: This scholarship cannot be combined with any other scholarships or bursaries provided by the University.

Entry requirements

The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.

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Your qualification Requirements

About our typical entry requirements

Postgraduate entry requirements

2:1 Bachelor’s degree in Politics studies or other social science degree. On occasion, 2:1 Bachelor’s degrees from non-social science areas will be considered.

International qualifications

If you hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, but don’t meet our entry requirements, you could be eligible for a Pre-Master’s course. This is offered on campus at the University of Liverpool International College, in partnership with Kaplan International Pathways. It’s a specialist preparation course for postgraduate study, and when you pass the Pre-Master’s at the required level with good attendance, you’re guaranteed entry to a University of Liverpool master’s degree.

English language requirements

You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language, unless you’re from a majority English speaking country.

We accept a variety of international language tests and country-specific qualifications.

International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.

English language qualification Requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no component below 6.0
TOEFL iBT 88 overall, with minimum scores of listening 19, writing 19, reading 19 and speaking 20
Duolingo English Test 120 overall, with no component below 105
Pearson PTE Academic 61 overall, with no component below 59
LanguageCert Academic 70 overall, with no skill below 65
PSI Skills for English B2 Pass with Merit in all bands
INDIA Standard XII National Curriculum (CBSE/ISC) - 75% and above in English. Accepted State Boards - 80% and above in English.
WAEC C6 or above


Do you need to complete a Pre-Sessional English course to meet the English language requirements for this course?

The length of Pre-Sessional English course you’ll need to take depends on your current level of English language ability.

Find out the length of Pre-Sessional English course you may require for this degree.

Pre-sessional English

If you don’t meet our English language requirements, we can use your most recent IELTS score, or the equivalent score in selected other English language tests, to determine the length of Pre-Sessional English course you require.

Use the table below to check the course length you're likely to require for your current English language ability and see whether the course is available on campus or online.

Your most recent IELTS score Pre-Sessional English course length On campus or online
6.0 overall, with no component below 6.0 6 weeks On campus
6.0 overall, with no component below 5.5 10 weeks On campus and online options available
6.0 overall, with no more than one component below 5.5, and no component below 5.0 12 weeks On campus and online options available
5.5 overall, with no more than one component below 5.5, and no component below 5.0 20 weeks On campus
5.0 overall, with no more than one component below 5.0, and no component below 4.5 30 weeks On campus
4.5 overall, with no more than one component below 4.5, and no component below 4.0 40 weeks On campus

If you’ve completed an alternative English language test to IELTS, we may be able to use this to assess your English language ability and determine the Pre-Sessional English course length you require.

Please see our guide to Pre-Sessional English entry requirements for IELTS 6.5, with no component below 6.0, for further details.

About our entry requirements

Our entry requirements may change from time to time both according to national application trends and the availability of places at Liverpool for particular courses. We review our requirements before the start of the new application cycle each year and publish any changes on our website so that applicants are aware of our typical entry requirements before they submit their application.

We believe in treating applicants as individuals, and in making offers that are appropriate to their personal circumstances and background. Therefore the offer any individual applicant receives may differ slightly from the typical offer quoted on the website.

More about life in Liverpool

Discover more about the city and University.

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Why Liverpool?

Liverpool bursts with diversity and creativity which makes it ideal for you to undertake your postgraduate studies and access various opportunities for you and your family.

Accommodation Postgraduate students walking through the campus.


To fully immerse yourself in the university experience living in halls will keep you close to campus where you can always meet new people. Find your home away from home.

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Fees and Finance

Discover what expenses are covered by the cost of your tuition fees and other finance-related information you may need regarding your studies at Liverpool.

Changes to International Relations and Security MA

See what updates we've made to this course since it was published. We document changes to information such as course content, entry requirements and how you'll be taught.

23 March 2023: New postgraduate taught course pages

New course pages launched.