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Global Security and Borders (MA)

MA | Postgraduate Taught

Global Security and Borders

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
15 (Full Time)
15 (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    Borders have become a key site and central concern of global security practices and theory, from the Mexican-United States border to the Mediterranean ports of the EU. The many facets of borders are introduced and analysed in this programme: they are understood as containers of identity, sites of power, and points of weakness where the mobility of people (eg terrorists, migrants) and things (eg drugs, weapons) can disrupt prevailing forms of security. This programme aims to help students navigate this complex terrain by providing a firm grounding in critical border studies, offering the chance to apply their academic insights within a work-based environment with borders/security professionals through the Borders Internship module.

    Please Note: due to external international funding deadlines and the limited availability of internships, the closing date for non-UK/Irish applicants to this programme is 29th January 2021 at 4pm GMT; for UK/Irish applicants the closing date for applications is 31st March 2021 at 4pm GMT. Applications received after these closing dates will be regarded as LATE and will be considered only if vacancies exist when all applications received by these closing dates have been processed.

    Global Security and Borders highlights

    11% of the Queen’s student population are international students. Queen’s currently has over 3,000 international students from 85 different countries.

    Industry Links

    • The opportunity to feed in to contemporary policy debates both directly with professionals through the Internship as well as debating with staff who advise governments and security sector actors.
    • This programme has the particular benefit of an Internship module where students will learn to manage their time and acquire transferrable skills in a work-based environment.

    Career Development

    • The chance to apply theoretical insights in the real world through the Borders Internship module where you will also learn key transferrable employability skills. Potential careers emerging from this degree include: local, regional and national Government, policy analysis, border agencies, customs and excise, and research for interest and advocacy NGOs.

    World Class Facilities

    • Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School.

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • Research-led teaching by world leading experts who have been awarded grants by UK and EU funding bodies to undertake research on the interaction of borders and security.

    Student Experience

    • A unique opportunity, not offered anywhere else in the UK or Ireland, to study the crucial interaction of global security practices and borders as sites of power, identity and politics.
    • The School's active research environment, including internationally renowned guest speakers, staff seminars and reading groups.
    • Queen’s is ranked 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020).
    • Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellent (Times Higher Education, 2019).
    • Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020).
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    A unique course, not offered anywhere else in the UK or Ireland, through which you’ll critically examine how pressing security issues are increasingly being felt at border sites around the world.

    You’ll explore how issues such as migration, security, human rights and sovereignty converge at key border sites, while engaging with these issues first hand on an internship. Students will spend 10 weeks working in border sites (eg airports, ports) and with experts on borders and security, including those in relevant security services, charities, customs and immigration, and volunteer organisations.

    Core ModulesOffer foundational knowledge and understanding in Global Security and Borders, practical experience and active learning within a work-based situation on the Borders Internship module, as well as teaching the key skills regarding how to design a research project.

    These compulsory modules include:

    HAP7001 - Approaches to Research Design (Semester 1)
    PAI7097 - Borders Internship (double-weighted – 40 CATS) (Semester 2)
    PAI7037 - Global Borders and Security (Semester 1)
    PAI9099 - Dissertation (triple-weighted - 60 CATS)
    Course DetailsThe programme has three different components: Core modules, Elective modules, and an MA dissertation.
    DissertationTo enable students to develop their particular area of specialism, facilitate independent learning and instil a variety of skills such as project management, detailed analysis and self-motivation, students on the MA pathway must also write a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words.
    Elective ModulesElective modules offer the chance to specialise in a particular area of interest, build on foundational knowledge, and develop focused expertise.

    One elective module is to be chosen from the below in Semester 1:
    PAI7021 – The Politics of Northern Ireland
    PAI7051 – Contemporary Security
    PAI7036 - The Politics and Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transitions
    PHL7056 - Global Ethics

    One elective module is to be chosen from the below in Semester 2:
    PAI7007 – Global Terrorism
    PAI7022 – The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
    PAI7027 – Conflict Intervention
    PAI7030 – International Political Economy
    PAI7032 – Gender, Politics and Democracy
    PAI7050 – Ethnic conflict and consensus
    PAI7052 – Inst. And Politics of the EU
    PHL7038 – Philosophy of Conflict and War

    Note that this is not an exclusive list and these options are subject to staff availability.

    People teaching you

    Prof Debbie Lisle

    School of HAPP

    Teaching Times

    Afternoon / Evening

    Career Prospects

    All of the MA programmes offered in the School provide our graduates with the skills to pursue a wide range of careers in the private, public and voluntary sectors. In addition they provide an appropriate basis for those who wish to proceed to Doctoral-level study.

    Learning and Teaching

    Average of six hours contact teaching hours per week for the first semester. In the second semester, as well as two hours contact on an Elective module, the Borders Internship module will involve three days of a work-based placement per week for 10 weeks, as well as dedicated supervision with a member of academic staff.

    Students should expect to spend 10-12 hours of independent study for every two hours in seminars and lectures, spread across the course of the semester. However, the second semester Borders Internship involves a more complex mix of work-based learning and supervision.

    Cognitive Skills

    • Develop advanced analytical, reasoning, literacy and communication skills;
    • Solve problems, process and prioritize a wide variety of information, and express sophisticated arguments and positions in oral and written form;
    • Enhance their knowledge of relevant methodological and theoretical approaches to key issue areas relating to global security and borders;
    • Identify and articulate advanced level arguments relating to global security and borders in oral and written form.

    Knowledge and Understanding

    • engage in relational thinking by acknowledging how pressing issues of global security are revealed most clearly in the operation of borders, and how borders expose the contingency of state sovereignty and the international system
    • demonstrate an advanced awareness and understanding of the foundations of Critical Security Studies and Border Studies within International Relations;
    • understand how Critical Security Studies and Border Studies relate to different theoretical approaches to global security and borders within International Relations; acknowledge the diversity of critical approaches and identify key tensions between them;
    • recognise the interdisciplinary influences on Critical Security Studies and Border Studies and acknowledge how these inform its development;
    • understand how critical theories of global security and borders translate into different practices at border sites, even when those sites are radically dispersed;
    • apply contemporary academic debates about global security and borders to contemporary bordering practices;
    • critically engage in debates on key developments in the politics of global security and borders;
    • reflect upon the ethical and political implications and developments in global security and borders;
    • engage in depth with a wide range of key issues in a theoretically informed way;
    • pursue independent, creative and critical thinking through both written work and group debate and discussions.

    Subject Specific Skills

    • understand of the key and evolving debates in Critical Security Studies and Border Studies;
    • critically engage with arguments relating to global security and borders, including contemporary bordering practices, the ethical and political implications of efforts to increase the security of borders; and moments where border security fails.

    Transferable Skills

    Acquire and develop advanced subject-specific skills, as well as organizational, professional and career development skills that will be beneficial in further research, education and employment.
    One of the MA's core modules – the double-weighted PAI7097 Borders Internship – is key to providing transferable skills relating to employment.

    It has two main components:
    Students will undertake a dedicated 10 week site-specific Borders Internship at a non-HE institution for 3 days a week for 10 weeks (from weeks 3-12). This will be supported by a preparatory workshop. The host institutions are both governmental and non-governmental (3rd sector), and all are directly engaged in the work of global security and borders. The confirmed host institutions for the borders internship will change every year, depending on need, availability and student numbers. These will normally be finalised by September before the students begin the programme.

    Host institutions we are working with include:
    • the UK Home Office
    • North-South Ministerial Council, Armagh
    • Cyber Crime Centre, PSNI
    • The Good Relations Council
    • The Equality Commission
    • Health and Social Care Board (Migrant Children)
    • Confederation of British Industries

    To ensure that the learning outcomes on the programme are met, the Borders Internship module will provide the following additional assurances:
    • A fair and transparent allocation of internships to students involving the student's preferences, student ranking by entrance grades and achievement, and an interview with relevant staff;
    • A comprehensive model of supervision and monitoring (see next column) including regular one-on-one meetings with an academic supervisor, peer group mentoring and dedicated onsite supervision by a host mentor;
    • A dedicated effort, by the course convenor, to ensure that all visas for Tier 4 students undertaking internships in the Republic of Ireland are acquired in advance;
    • A concentrated effort by the course convenor and host mentor to ensure that any required security clearances are undertaken in advance of the internship starting;
    • A comprehensive risk policy to ensure that alternative arrangements can be made if an internship does not work out, runs into difficulty or breaks down.


    Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

    • Seminar Presentations
    • Learning Journals
    • Literature reviews
    • Portfolios
    • Written essays
    • Dissertations (15,000 words)(60 credits)

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject, or a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject with relevant professional experience.

    Further criteria may be applied since placements are limited. This may include ranking applications on the basis of academic performance, a personal statement and/or an interview.

    Please Note: due to external international funding deadlines and the limited availability of internships, the closing date for non-UK/Irish applicants to this programme is 29th January 2021 at 4pm GMT; for UK/Irish applicants the closing date for applications is 31st March 2021 at 4pm GMT. Applications received after these closing dates will be regarded as LATE and will be considered only if vacancies exist when all applications received by these closing dates have been processed.

    A deposit of £400 is required to secure your place. (This condition of offer will be in addition to any academic or English language requirements).

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,450
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,450
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,250
    EU Other 3 £17,700
    International £17,700

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Global Security and Borders costs

    Students will undertake internships located mostly in the Greater Belfast area. Where the internship requires travel outside the Belfast area, the School of HAPP will negotiate with the host institution/provider to cover travel costs.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus