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Global Security and Borders (MA)

MA|Postgraduate Taught

Global Security and Borders

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
Places available
15 (Full 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 (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 2022 at 4pm GMT; for EU and UK students the closing date for applications is 31st March 2022 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

    A specialized 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

    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 transferrable skills in a work-based environment.

    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 chance to apply theoretical insights in the real world through the Borders Internship module where you will also learn key transferrable employability skills.
    • The School's active research environment, including internationally renowned guest speakers, staff seminars and reading groups.
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    This programme offers 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 on the programme 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.

    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:
    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.
    Semester One (Autumn)PAI7021 The Politics of Northern Ireland
    PAI7051 Contemporary Security
    PHL7056 Global Ethics

    * Note that this is not an exclusive list and these options are subject to staff availability.
    Semester Two (Spring)PAI7007 Global Terrorism
    PAI7022 – The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
    PAI7027 Conflict Intervention
    PAI7030 International Political Economy
    PAI7032 Gender and Politics
    PAI7036 The Politics and Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transitions
    PHL7038 The Philosophy of Conflict and War
    PAI7052 Institutions and Politics of the EU

    People teaching you

    Dr. Heather Johnson
    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:

    Dr. Merav Amir
    Seniot 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:

    Professor Cathal McCall

    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

    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:

    Professor Debbie Lisle
    Programme Convenor

    School of HAPP
    Professor Debbie Lisle’s research in critical International Relations and International Political Sociology explores issues of difference, mobility, security, travel, visuality, governmentality, biopolitics, materiality, technology, borders, practice and power. Email:

    Professor Katy Hayward

    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

    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. 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

    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 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. 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:

    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

  • 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 31st January 2022 at 4pm GMT; for UK/Irish applicants the closing date for applications is 31st March 2022 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).

    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 pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for 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 £6,650
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,650
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,470
    EU Other 3 £18,200
    International £18,200

    1 EU 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, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    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 2022-23, 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