Skip to Content
MA|Postgraduate Taught

Global Security and Borders

Entry year
Entry requirements
2.2 (minimum 55%)
1 year (Full-time)
Places available
30 (Full Time)

Current information: 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 (e.g. terrorists, migrants) and things (e.g. 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. At the core of this programme is the chance for students 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 International student applications to this programme is 31st January 2024 at 4pm GMT; for EU and UK students the closing date for applications is 31st March 2024 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 specialised MA not offered anywhere else in the UK or Ireland. A dedicated focus on global security as it operates on borders. An intense semester-long Borders Internship in key political organizations The chance to shape political policy

Global Security and Borders highlights

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 chance to apply theoretical insights in the real world through the Borders Internship module where you will also learn key transferable employability skills.

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.

Industry Links

The opportunity to feed into 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 transferable skills in a work-based environment.

Student Experience

The School's active research environment, including internationally renowned guest speakers, staff seminars and reading groups.

Queen’s is ranked in the top 170 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022).

16% of the Queen’s student population are international students (Queen’s Planning Office, 2023).

Queen’s ranked 18 in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023).

Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellence (Times Higher Education, 2019).

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.

In the first semester, you’ll explore how issues such as migration, security, human rights, technology and sovereignty converge at key border sites. The curriculum responds to current transformations in global politics, and addresses entrenched problems through contemporary case studies.

In the second semester, you will engage with these issues first-hand on an intense semester-long Borders Internship. Students will spend 10 weeks in a government department or local organisation crafting policies that address borders, security and conflict. You will produce a substantial Briefing Paper for your organisation, and present this work to wider audiences. During the summer, students will work exclusively on their independent MA dissertation.

Course Details

The programme has three different components: Core modules, Elective modules, and an MA dissertation.

In addition to the 3 compulsory modules + the dissertation, students also have the opportunity to take 2 elective modules from the wider offering in HAPP that will enhance and strengthen the core provision. Given the broad nature of security and borders, the elective modules are drawn from some of our other MA programmes. Here, students will get the chance to discuss and debate relevant issues with students with diverse intellectual interests. The elective modules available on this programme change each year, but may include some of the following:


Students are required to take TWO compulsory modules:

HAP7001 – Approaches and Debates in Research Design
This module aims to introduce key approaches to research design, while also introducing some of the contemporary debates in research in the social sciences and humanities.

PAI7037 Global Borders and Security
The module will examine the key theoretical approaches, debates and issues that constitute Border Studies, and place these in a wider context of global security.

Plus ONE optional module from choices such as:

PAI7022 – The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
This module explores and analyses the political development of the Irish Free State/Republic of Ireland in historical context.

PAI7051 Contemporary Security
The module will examine the key theoretical approaches and practical issues and debates that have defined the evolution of Security Studies.

PAI7099 The UK and Europe
This module offers students the opportunity to address core issues in Politics via a focus on the UK’s relationship with Europe in a time of flux.

PAI7103 – Global Development
This module will cover cutting-edge debates on the contemporary form and function of the policies, theories, and practices that comprise the field of Global Development.


Students are required to take the following module:

PAI7097 Borders Internship
This new Module will offer students the opportunity to undertake a work placement for a total of 2 days per week (including half days as necessary) for 12 weeks (24 days total) in a host organisation.

Plus ONE module from choice such as:

PAI7007 Global Terrorism
This module introduces students to the range of important issues relating to the phenomenon of global terrorism and responses in terms of the global war on terrorism.

PAI7021 The Politics and Institutions of Northern Ireland
The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement put an end to armed conflict in Northern Ireland and set up institutions designed to govern a society and polity divided along unionist and nationalist lines.

PAI7027 Conflict Intervention
The module will evaluate the changing nature of intervention, from unilateral forceful intervention to multi-lateral intervention, to humanitarian intervention, and third party mediation.

PAI7030 Global Political Economy
This module provides a themed examination of the changing politics of the world economy, through the lens of the sub/inter-discipline, known as International Political Economy.

PAI7032 Gender and Politics
This module analyses the link between gender, politics and democracy in a comparative context.

PAI7050 - Ethnic Conflict and Consensus: the power of institutions
This module examines concepts of ethnicity, national identity, multiculturalism as they relate to contemporary conflict.

PAI7059 – Freedom and Modernity
The modern era is distinguished by the emergence of divergent interpretations of the nature of freedom, individual, social, and political. This course is devoted to exploring the nature of these different conceptions and the theories of freedom associated with them. Benjamin Constant famously contrasted the liberties of the ancients, i.e. collective political freedoms, with the liberties of the moderns, i.e. individual freedoms.

PHL7057 Social Injustice
This module examines the problem of social injustice in contemporary, plural societies.

PAI7102 Global Ireland
The module would explore Ireland’s international experience, from the past to present, with a focus on three key relationships: that with Britain, with America and with Europe.


Students complete research on:

PAI9099 – Dissertation
The research and writing of a 15,000-word dissertation on any chosen aspect of Politics or International Studies. Submission date - early to mid-September.

People teaching you

Senior Lecturer

Dr Heather Johnson’s research focuses on irregular migration and asylum seekers, border security, and the practices of resistance, solidarity and protest of non-citizens. She is interested in developing new understandings of mobility and non-citizenship, and particularly in new methods for engaging with these issues. Email:

Senior Lecturer

Natural and Built Environment
A cultural and political geographer with particular interest in critical perspectives on security, processes of border making, geographies of embodiment, critical cultural analysis and feminist and queer theory. Research examines the use of border making technologies in the Israeli control over the occupied Palestinian territory. Dr Amir also researches political activism and the securitization of public spaces. Prior research projects included analysis of modes of embodiment and the political and social implications of the new reproductive technologies. Email:


Cathal McCall is Professor of European Politics and Borders. He has published widely on the theme of European Union cross-border cooperation and conflict transformation. Currently, he has a specific interest in bordering, debordering and re-bordering on the island of Ireland. Email:


Professor David Phinnemore’s research interests are focused on European integration and cover in particular processes of EU treaty reform and their impact on the EU, the political dynamics underpinning EU enlargement and the EU’s relations with European non-member states. Email:

Programme Convenor

Prof Lisle’s research engages with a number of contemporary debates in International Relations, International Political Sociology and beyond, most notably around issues of difference, mobility, security, travel, visuality, governmentality, biopolitics, materiality, technology, practice and power. My earlier work explores the relevance of cultural and visual artifacts (e.g. contemporary travel writing, museum exhibits, photographs, art, war films) to world politics, and argues that the cultural realm tells as much about International Relations as the official documents usually privileged in this context. Email:


Professor of Political Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast and a Senior Fellow of the UK in a Changing Europe thinktank, where she leads a major ESRC-funded project on the topic of the future and status of Northern Ireland after Brexit. She is an Eisenhower Fellow (2019) and a Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen's University. Professor Hayward is an internationally recognised expert on Brexit and Northern Ireland/Ireland, particularly with respect to the Irish border. She was appointed to the technical expert panel of the UK government’s Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group on Brexit (2019) and has given written and oral evidence before several parliamentary committees in the UK, Ireland and EU. Email:

Teaching Times

Teaching takes place at a variety of times from 9-8pm Monday – Friday.

Learning and Teaching

In general, there is an 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 prioritise 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 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 organisational, 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.

    • Students will undertake a dedicated 10 week site-specific Borders Internship at a non-HE institution for 3 days a week for 10 weeks. 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 routinely work with include:

    - Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Ireland
    - The Executive Office, Stormont (Good Relations)
    - Cyber Crime Centre, PSNI.
    - The Equality Commission
    - UK Visas & Immigration
    - Irish Central Border Area Network
    - Pivotal
    - Cooperation Ireland

    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.


Each module has its own assessment structure. At Postgraduate level, these are almost all continuous assessment and can include the following:

  • • Essays
    • Learning Journals
    • Literature Reviews
    • Policy Reviews
    • Blogs
    • Briefing Papers
    • Book Reviews
    • Seminar Presentations
  • The assessment breakdown for the CORE modules on this programme is as follows:

    HAP7001 Approaches to Research Design: 2 Portfolio Entries + Research Design
    PAI7037 Global Security and Borders: 1 Blog Portfolio + 1 Essay
    PAI7097 Borders Internship: 1 Briefing Paper + 1 Learning Log
    PAI9099 Dissertation: 1 15,000 word dissertation




The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2023/24). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

    Borders Internship (40 credits)
    Dissertation (60 credits)

    Optional Modules

    Social Injustice (20 credits)
    Global Development (20 credits)
    Global Ireland (20 credits)
    Gender and Politics (20 credits)
    The UK and Europe (20 credits)
    Global Terrorism (20 credits)

Entrance requirements


Normally a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree (with minimum of 55%) or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject; or a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree (with a minimum of 55%) 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 31st January 2024 at 4pm GMT; for UK/Irish applicants the closing date for applications is 29th March 2024 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 is required to secure your place. (This condition of offer will be in addition to any academic or English language requirements).

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students

Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.

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.



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. Former students on the Global Security and Borders programme have gone on to the following careers:
- Fully funded PhD Programme in the US
- UK Navy
- Immigration services in Ireland
- Law School on the US
- Civil Service in Canadian Federal Government

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £7,300
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £7,300
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £9,250
EU Other 3 £21,500
International £21,500

1EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.

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 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

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.

Terms and Conditions for Postgraduate applications:

1.1  Due to high demand, there is a deadline for applications. 
1.2  You will be required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the course.
1.3  This condition of offer is in addition to any academic or English language requirements.

Read the full terms and conditions at the link below:

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.

How do I fund my study?

The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 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 £11,836 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 - please check this link regularly, even after you have submitted an application, as new scholarships may become available to you.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at



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