International Security Studies (MLitt) 2023 entry

The MLitt in International Security Studies introduces international security through traditional and critical approaches. Students will learn to cultivate their own voice by engaging with different theoretical approaches and empirical case studies. 

Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2024
One year full time
School of International Relations

Application deadline

Friday 28 April 2023

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“peers both within and outside class. My tutors have provided meaningful feedback throughout the year and that has helped me improve my writing and research skills. The highlight of postgraduate student life here has been the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities.”
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- Texas, USA

Entry requirements

  • A strong 2.1 Honours degree. A background in political science and international relations is strongly encouraged. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé 
  • personal statement indicating your knowledge of the programme and how it will benefit you (500 words) 
  • sample of your own, single-authored academic written work (2,000 words) 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MLitt in International Security Studies is a one-year taught postgraduate programme run by the School of International Relations. 


  • Allows students to study critical and traditional security approaches. 
  • Ensures that students grasp the cutting-edge debates taking place in security studies.  
  • Invites students to think originally and ask alternative questions.  
  • Provides opportunities for students to apply a wide array of theoretical lenses.  
  • Encourages students to focus on empirical case studies and global security issues. 

The School of International Relations has three broad research themes

  • conflict, peace and security 
  • the evolving character of global and supra-national institutions 
  • civil societies and international relations. 

These themes are covered by the School's research centres: 


All International Security Studies MLitt students take two compulsory and two optional modules over the course of the programme. 

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2022-2023  academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2023 entry. 

  • Critical Security Studies: examines the challenge to traditional conceptions of security presented by the emergence of critical security studies since the end of the Cold War. 
  • International Security: focuses on important issues and significant debates in security studies. 

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered. 

  • Artificial Intelligence and International Security: explores the role Artificial Intelligence plays in International Security including in defence, intelligence, counterterrorism, and human security. 
  • The Changing Face(s) of Diplomacy: Emotions, Power and Persuasion in International Relations: highlights the role of emotions, persuasion and communication technology into the diplomatic arena.  
  • Emergent Great Powers: provides a comparative analysis of the emergence of India and China as great powers within the international system. 
  • The Global Politics of Everyday Life: explores how everyday life and global politics are co-constitutive by drawing on a range of interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives. 
  • The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: explores the complexities of the conflict from its origins to its recent evolution, drawing upon history, critical security, postcolonialism, and the politics of emotion.  
  • The Military in Politics: introduces students to civil-military relations and then analyses how armed forces impact states domestic politics. 
  • Political Economy of Conflict: provides a political economy perspective on conflict in a developing economy. 
  • Security and Development in East Asia: investigates growth and development in East Asian states, and seeks to understand if there is a uniquely Asian approach to security and development that produces distinctive regional patterns. 
  • Security and Insecurity in Contemporary Russian Politics: examines how the concepts of security and insecurity have come to underpin the Kremlin's approach to domestic politics and foreign policy in the post-communist era?   
  • Security and Justice Institutions in World Politics: examines the development and efficacy of institutions in the fields of peace, security and justice. 
  • Spaces of Securitization: explores how securitization unfolds in theory and in practice by investigating the ‘spatial turn’ in international relations. 

You may, with permission, take modules from other MLitt programmes in the School.  

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University’s position on curriculum development).  

The final element of the MLitt is a 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation should focus on an area of international security studies in which you are interested. Each student is supported by a relevant supervisor from the School who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. 

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there is an exit award available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt. 

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2023 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2023 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


The programme consists of four taught modules taken over two semesters and a 15,000-word dissertation in an area of your choice.

The two compulsory modules will ground you in both long-standing and contemporary approaches to security issues. 

Modules are taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Average lecture sizes range from 20 to 30 students, and tutorial sizes range from 1 to 15 students. 

Assessment methods include a combination of examination and coursework. 

Every MLitt student is assigned a dissertation supervisor who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. 




More information on tuition fees can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances. Find out more about the scholarships and postgraduate loans available.

Marc L Carter International Security Studies Essay Prize 

The Marc L Carter International Security Studies Essay Prize is awarded annually for the best ISS essay or equivalent assessed work.

The prize is named after Marc Carter, a passionate educator who believed in multi-disciplinary teaching, student-centred learning, and the transformative power of education.

Nominations will be made by staff members only, and recipients will be determined by a review panel in the ISS programme. The prize carries with it a £200 monetary award. 

All taught postgraduate scholarships

After your degree


Students who graduate from the MLitt in International Security Studies frequently find employment in the foreign service, non-governmental agencies and security consulting, or advance to a PhD to pursue an academic career.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in International Security Studies. 

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in a PhD programme at St Andrews.  

Postgraduate research

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Postgraduate virtual days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 1944
School of International Relations
The Arts Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

School of International Relations website