School of Law, Criminology and Government

MA International Relations: Global Security and Development

Understand how global security and development are interconnected in our interdependent world. Discover how and why underlying issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, societal inequities and politics create the international framework in which security conflicts emerge. Gain a sophisticated understanding of the dynamics that drive global politics, and the ability to use this knowledge in fields as diverse as diplomacy, journalism, finance, industry, public relations and risk analysis.

Key features

  • Gain a understanding of such topical issues as global politics, the rise of religious fundamentalism, human rights, world trade, poverty and climate change. 
  • Take the opportunity to study the politics of several world regions – Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia – and critically debate their different perspectives.
  • Attain invaluable research skills – by studying this programme you will be able to conduct and present an extended piece of research.
  • Tailor your masters to match your career aspirations by choosing the subjects that most interest you from a range of elective modules.
  • Become part of a lively research community with the opportunity for interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. 

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • You'll look at both the theory and practice of international relations in terms of the threats to, and vulnerabilities of, global security and development. Three compulsory modules will give you a basis for understanding global security, global governance and how to conduct advanced research. You'll then choose three specialised modules, giving you the opportunity to shape your degree to suit your interests. The certificate and diploma are available for those only completing part of the progression route. For the masters degree, you’ll complete a final dissertation on a specific aspect of the current security and/or development problems confronting policymakers in world politics. You’ll undertake a research and methodology module to support your masters research and equip you for your career. Learn through lectures, seminars and, in some cases, simulation exercises. Assessment of modules will be by a mixture of essays, seminar presentations, report writing, exams, and the dissertation.
    Core modules
    • IRL700 MA Dissertation in Global Security and Development

      This module provides MA students with the opportunity to demonstrate their research skills. It requires the design and production of a substantial dissertation in the field of Global Security and Development in which the aims and objectives of the dissertation and an evaluation of the methodology are specified.

    • IRL701 Research, Professional Skills and Methodology

      This module is designed to support and develop practical research and professional skills for postgraduate international relations and geopolitics students. The focus of the module is twofold ¿ practical issues in research and professional practice as well as methodological analysis.

    • IRL702 Strategy and Security Studies

      This module considers how national policymakers devise strategy to cope with the security challenges of the 21st Century. The broadening of the security agenda has brought a large number of issues and actors under the purview of security practitioners. As a result, it has become less clear where the boundaries of responsibility lie and how security problems should be prioritised. The module examines theories and developments in strategy and security to identify the most important risks and threats.

    • IRL703 Critical Approaches to Global Governance

      This module considers concepts of global governance and provides the foundations for the application of contemporary international relations theories to questions of world order, global governance and varieties of international cooperation, and to concrete issues such as economic globalization, migration and population movements, environmental politics.

    Optional modules
    • ENT702 Entrepreneurship in Developing and Emerging Economies

      This module will consider entrepreneurship in developing and emerging economies. The importance of developing entrepreneurial activity in the developing world/emerging economies is identified. Case histories of successful entrepreneurial practice are identified in the context of the developing world/emerging economies.

    • IRL704 Sub-Saharan Africa in the Global Political Economy

      This module explores Africa's location in the global political economy, examining various historical, economic and socio-political developments over the past fifty years. It offers an overview of the history of the region, as well as the major contemporary political-economic and social developments and the challenges these pose. The module also seeks to provide the tools to analyse and understand what is going on in Africa today.

    • IRL705 International Relations in the Middle East: A Critical Approach

      This module introduces the students to and requires them to engage critically with key themes involved in the study of International Relations in the Middle East.

    • IRL706 International Relations in Practice

      This module offers students the opportunity to integrate work or fieldwork experience into their programme of postgraduate IR study.

    • IRL707 Crisis Points: America in the Middle East since 1945

      This module examines how the US has grappled with the problem of creating a stable regional order that would both serve its own interests and uproot perceived sources of instability. Through a close examination of 11 pivotal `crisis points¿, this module considers how each one exposed deficiencies in US policy but also resulted in changes to that policy. As well as introducing students to post-war US foreign policy in the Middle East, this course asks what is `missing¿ from a crisis-driven understanding of U.S. involvement in the Middle East?

    • IRL708 International Trade Policy and Politics

      This module covers the primary institutions involved in regulating trade at the international and regional levels. Focusing in particular on the World Trade Organization, it explains the major contemporary policy issues; including trade dispute management, 'behind the border' issues, the trade-development link and trade in services. It then analyses the political, geopolitical and geoeconomic forces driving major trade relationships in the contemporary world.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA International Relations Global Security and Development programme specification 2557

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements


You should have a second-class honours degree or equivalent, or an equivalent professional qualification. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications will be considered on a case by case basis.


Please view the country specific pages for further information regarding the equivalency of your degree. International applicants will be required to provide evidence of their English language ability, for example by achieving an IELTS score of 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element) or equivalent. Pre-sessional English language courses are available if you do not meet these requirements.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £6,500 £6,500
International £14,000 £14,400
Part time (Home/EU) £350 £360
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

Applying for postgraduate taught study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Postgraduate Admissions and Enquiries team are on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

If you would like any further information please contact the Postgraduate and Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Applying for postgraduate research study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. The Doctoral College is available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees.  If  you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via

If you would like any further information please contact the Doctoral College:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 587640


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Introduction to the programme

In this short video Dr Patrick Holden, Programme Lead, provides a personal introduction to the MA International Relations: Global Security and Development programme.

Patrick introduces some of the key members of the high quality academic team who help deliver the programme, provides an overview of the academic structure and content, including some of the exciting projects our students have undertaken, before talking about the diverse and interesting career paths our graduates have progressed on to and the University and city of Plymouth.

Find out more about Patrick's teaching and research interests

Polychronis Kapalidis – MA International Relations graduate

Plymouth is a great place to study, both at an undergraduate and postgraduate level… Not only are the facilities modern, but the staff, both academic and administrative, are always there to assist you and to provide guidance and support.

Find out more about the challenges Polychronis has taken

Julie Voo, MA International Relations graduate

My time at Plymouth University was invaluable due to the supportive staff, their diverse areas of research, and the vibrant and enriching extra-curricular activities, such as the University Politics and International Affairs Society.

Julie is currently Head of Business Environment Strategy at Department for International Trade (DIT), British Embassy Beijing.

Dr Thomas Warren – BA (Hons), MA and PhD International Relations graduate

I have a passion for both research and teaching, which I harnessed during my time at Plymouth University. The ability to extend the frontiers of knowledge while enthusing the next generation of students is a constant high for me.
Find out more about Thomas' experiences

Topical issues in contemporary global politics

Get involved in a regular series of seminars attended by students, academics and members of the public focused on global politics – Plymouth International Studies Centre Seminar Series
Shelterbox supplying aid to disaster struck areas
Reflecting his research expertise, Dr Patrick Holden provides an insight in one of the University of Plymouth Brexit Papers – The potential impact of Brexit on UK International Development policies

US-Iran relations

Lecturer in International Relations, Dr Chris Emery was invited to be part of a national BBC News 24 interview in January 2018, to offer his insight on current US-Iran relations.

Air strikes in Syria

Lecturer in International Relations, Dr Lorenzo Cladi discussed the consequences of air strikes in Syria during a BBC Radio Cornwall interview in April 2018.


Master Your Future – Faculty of Business Professoriate Scholarships

The Faculty of Business Professoriate Scholarships of £1,000 are awarded to selected students undertaking postgraduate study each year.

The opportunity to apply for a professoriate scholarship is available to applicants currently in receipt of an offer for postgraduate study.

Find out more and how to apply

Postgraduate loans

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £10,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

The loans will be available for both taught and research masters programmes across all disciplines and subject areas.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Postgraduate students

Postgraduate study in the Faculty of Business can help you realise your ambitions and develop your potential as a manager and leader of the future. Whether you come to us as a newly qualified graduate or after a successful track record in industry we provide high quality, professionally accredited postgraduate programmes, and PhD and professional doctorate supervision.

International community

Play your part in out thriving international community of 3,000 students from over 100 countries studying full and part time programmes at the University.

We'll help you at every step of your journey from applying to settling in, during and after your postgraduate studies.