Terrorism and Political Violence (MLitt) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The MLitt in Terrorism and Political Violence seeks to develop in students a critical understanding of the concept of terrorism and political violence within the context of a multidisciplinary approach to security studies. 

Terrorism and Political Violence is also offered as a part-time online programme. 

Start date
September 2024
End date
August 2025
One year full time
School of International Relations

Application deadline

Friday 26 April 2024

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

“The postgraduate community brings together an array of extraordinary people from various backgrounds allowing me to meet a great bunch of people who share my interests. The lecturers and other staff are such an amazing group of smart, caring and wonderful people who have a passion in delivering a fantastic service.”
- Perth, Scotland

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 (1,000 words) 
    sample of your own, single-authored previous academic written work or a piece on 'The threat of terrorism is greatly exaggerated. Discuss.' (2,000 words) 
  • two original signed academic or professional 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 Terrorism and Political Violence is a taught postgraduate programme run by Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, Europe’s oldest terrorism research centre, based within the School the School of International Relations. 

This MLitt programme explores terrorism as a phenomenon, critically examines selected approaches to knowledge generation around terrorism and counterterrorism and considers the development of new research about, and responses to, terrorism and political violence.


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.

Each module typically comprises: 

  • one-hour lecture per week 
  • one-hour tutorial or seminar per week 
  • office hours 
  • 100% coursework assessment. 


Students must take the following compulsory module: 

  • Research Methods:  presents appropriate research methods to enable students to critically understand the literature on terrorism and political violence, and to lay the foundations to enable students to engage in further independent research

You must also choose one compulsory module from the following: 

  • Fundamental Issues and Structures of Terrorism: introduces the core conceptual issues of terrorism and political violence. 
  • Terrorism after 1945: provides an overview of the evolution, characteristics, and decline of terrorist movements and campaigns since 1945. 

Students choose two of the following optional modules:  

  • Counter-Extremism: Ethics, Policy and Practice: explores the most appropriate response to extremism through collaborative enquiry and direct engagement with policymakers and practitioners. The roles of education, civil society efforts to counter extremist speech, deradicalisation initiatives, victims, communities, and companies are explored.  
  • Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: familiarises students with different approaches that seek to explain how ethnicity and nationhood are created and maintained, how different forms of ethnic conflict and ethnic violence come about, and what possible mechanisms to contain nationalism and ethnic conflict are. 
  • State Responses to Terrorism: takes a holistic look at state responses to terrorism and political violence; students study the work of scholars from right across the social sciences and humanities who have sought to understand and explain aspects of state responses to terrorism.  
  • Terrorism and Liberal Democracy: addresses conceptual and definitional issues concerning terrorism; the relationship of terrorism to other forms of political violence; the origins, dynamics and development of contemporary terrorism; the efficacy of terrorism as a political weapon; the dilemmas and challenges of liberal democratic state responses to terrorism; and case studies in terrorism and counter-terrorism.

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 course is delivered through mixed-mode teaching, which involves traditional teaching in the form of lectures and tutorials alongside guided independent study. 

Over the course of a year, students will take four taught modules followed by a three-month research period finishing in the submission of a 15,000-word dissertation.

Assessment comprises coursework including essays and projects. 

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


The School of International Relations hosts a variety of research seminars throughout the academic session to promote the work of the faculty, students and visiting speakers. 

A number of student-led associations and organisations contribute to development and profile of International Relations throughout the University and the community. 

The Handa Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence is dedicated to the study of the causes, dynamics, characteristics and consequences of terrorism and related forms of political violence. Each February, the centre hosts a non-compulsory postgraduate workshop in which both full-time and online students are invited to attend to hear from experts in the field, network, and meet one-to-one with lecturers and supervisors. 




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our 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.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


Students who graduate from the MLitt in Terrorism and Political Violence go on to work in various professional fields including: 

  • law 
  • policy research and consultancy 
  • non-governmental organisations 
  • charities 
  • international organisations 
  • civil service 
  • journalism
  • publishing. 

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 Relations. 

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 online visiting 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 1931
School of International Relations
The Arts Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

School of International Relations website