Postgraduate MA/PgDip

Intelligence and Security Studies

Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology





One year

Three year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

Intelligence and security-related issues have never been more prevalent. With terrorist attacks occurring more frequently throughout Europe, the US and the Middle East, governments are working harder than ever before to keep people safe. Sound interesting? Our master’s degree in intelligence and security studies will give you the skills you need to make a difference in this field.

With a range of modules focused on how Britain has historically responded to threats to its internal security, this MA Intelligence and Security Studies degree will place these issues in their historical and cultural context, as well as introducing you to the conceptual tools needed for serious intellectual enquiry.

This is the longest-running non-governmental postgraduate course in the UK, in the area of contemporary intelligence and security issues. 

We have a partnership with Grey Dynamics, which is a private intelligence firm that offers apolitical analysis on topics such as security, geopolitics, defence and espionage. MAISS students will be eligible for participation in Grey Dynamics' internship programme.

Grey Dynamics logo

MA Intelligence and Security Studies (Distance Learning) is an option that is currently available to only professionals serving in intelligence and/or security-related employment. Intrigued to know more about our MA Intelligence and Security Studies? Why not come along to an upcoming Open Day

Meanwhile, if you have any questions you can contact our programme leader, Dr Christopher J. Murphy, directly.

Continue reading to understand more about this MA/PgDip Intelligence and Securities Studies course.

International applicants: Please check the international intakes page for the latest information and application dates.

You will:

  • Learn from a team of academics who are recognised, published experts in their fields
  • Study current, real-world events of international significance and importance
  • Gain the knowledge and transferrable skills desired by employers in the intelligence and security sector

students accepted

This is for you if...


You want to establish a professional intelligence or security-related career in either the public or private sector


You want to build a strong foundation for PhD study


You want to further enhance your employment prospects through further qualifications

Course details

All about the course

From the initiation of the secret intelligence services to the ongoing war on global terror, with this master’s degree in intelligence and security studies, you’ll become immersed in the history of Britain’s relationships with its spies and the effect of increased security on the culture of the country.

As your degree progresses, you’ll explore the impact of intelligence upon warfare, counter-terrorism, as well as its role as an everyday tool of government. You’ll be taught the academic skills required to analyse and review real-world examples, considering their impact within the context of history.

Your assignments will give you the chance to use contextual analysis to inform your decision-making – a key skill that will provide instant value to employers. You’ll have the opportunity to finish the course with a postgraduate diploma after the second trimester, or to progress to the master's degree in security and intelligence by completing a dissertation in an area that particularly interests you in trimester three.

 Gain a deeper understanding of what you’ll explore within each module below.

Full-time: Semester one

Issues in Intelligence

This module introduces you to the theory, practice and history of secret intelligence. Students will consider key issues and debates including how intelligence is defined, the strengths and weaknesses of the various modes of intelligence collection, and the importance of analysis, along with consideration of intelligence liaison and the ethical issues associated with intelligence.   It provides a suitable foundation for further study and research in the area.

Intelligence and Conflict

This module seeks to examine the role and impact of Britain’s civilian intelligence agencies in a range of conflicts from the Edwardian ‘spy scare’ and the formation of the Secret Service Bureau in 1909, to the ongoing global ‘War on Terror’ and counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.

Full-time: Semester two

The Secret State

Since the late-nineteenth century, Britain has faced a number of threats to internal security. This module uses newly available primary documents to examine the British government’s response to terrorism, espionage and subversion from the formation of Scotland Yard’s Special ‘Irish’ Branch in 1883, set up to combat Fenian terrorism, to the present-day counter-terror activities of the British Security Service (MI5) and police. In addition, the module explores how the British state has altered to meet individual threats, with sessions devoted to the Official Secrets Act, vetting and anti-terror legislation, looking at their impact on British political life and culture.

Middle East and Terrorism

This module offers the chance to develop an understanding of the scope and nature of terrorism as it related to the Middle East. You will develop the ability to differentiate between varying forms of terrorism in relation to the political and societal context from which they originate and the differing domestic, regional and international responses they provoke.

Security and Strategic Studies

This module considers the complex relationship between politics, strategy and security. You will examine traditional and enduring topics such as the dynamics of war, terrorism, nuclear deterrence and weapons proliferation, as well as non-violent security concerns such as environmental degradation and international trade and economics. The module provides the opportunity to explore key historical and contemporary issues in strategic and security studies, by applying the theoretical and conceptual tools of strategic and security studies to real-world examples.

Contemporary Security, Intelligence and Terrorism Studies

On this module will gain a systematic understanding and critical awareness of the current issues raised by security, intelligence, terrorism and counter-terrorism, and of scholarship in these fields of study. You will study concepts such as security, surveillance and terrorism threats posed to Western states since the end of the Cold War, and how states and corporate actors have responded to those threats.

Semester three


You will research and write a 14,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice in the field of intelligence and security.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


Taking place at our New Adelphi Campus, this intelligence and security master’s degree will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, supported by worksheets, videos and directed reading Seminars will involve group discussions, case studies and presentations to review real world examples that bring the theory to life.

You will also benefit from guest lectures from people who have first-hand experience working in the field of intelligence as well as the opportunity to attend relevant conferences.


Your module performance is usually assessed by two essays of 3,500 words (50% each). In addition, MA Intelligence and Security Studies students are required to submit a 14,000-word dissertation.


All our Politics and History courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things. 

Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students. 

Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.

Teacher profile

I’ve been a Lecturer – more recently Senior Lecturer – in Intelligence Studies at Salford since 2006. Prior to this I was a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary British History at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

I’m interested in the history of the British intelligence community, from the origins of the Security Service (MI5) and Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, or MI6) from 1909 to the present day. I also have a specific research interest in the work of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War.

Recent Publications Include:

‘Dramatising intelligence history on the BBC: the Camp 020 affair’, Intelligence and National Security 34(5) (2019), pp.688-702.

(with Dr Dan Lomas) Intelligence and Espionage: Secrets and Spies (Oxon: Routledge, 2019).

'"Constituting a Problem in Themselves": Countering Covert Chinese Activity in India: The Life and Death of the Chinese Intelligence Section, 1944-46', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 44(6) (2016), pp.928-951.

(with Dr Dan Lomas) 'Return to neverland? Freedom of Information and the History of British Intelligence', The Historical Journal 57(1) (March 2014), pp.273-287.

Staff Profile

Linkedin Profile

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


There’s never been a better, or more important, time to seek a career in intelligence or security services. From the armed forces to the police, the civil service to international organisations, an understanding and appreciation of the threats to security facing our country can help you put your role into context. Not to mention giving you the opportunity to add value to the important work you are doing.

If you’ve not yet entered the working world or you’re looking for a change of career, undertaking a professional qualification in this area will prove your interest and intentions, as well as giving you plenty of transferable skills to take to a new role. And as a master of intelligence and security studies, you’ll also be in the perfect position to pursue PhD study.


Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further academic research path through our doctoral (PhD) programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.


What you need to know

Do you want to establish a professional career in intelligence or security? Are you looking to build the foundations you need to apply for PhD study? Do you want to further enhance your employment prospects through further qualifications?

If so, we’d like to hear from you. We’re looking for people with a keen interest in intelligence and security studies, as well as a desire to take their abilities to the next level. You should be well-informed about current affairs, especially in relation to issues of security and terrorism.

Intrigued to know more about our MA Intelligence and Security Studies? Why not come along to our upcoming Open Day? Meanwhile, if you have any questions email course enquiries or you can contact our programme leader, Dr Christopher J. Murphy, directly.

Standard entry requirements

Standard entry requirements

A good honours degree in the social sciences or humanities is required, preferably in history, politics or international relations.


International students

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5, with no element below 5.5, is proof of this.

We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.

We also accept a range of other English language qualifications. If you do not have the English language requirements, you could take our Pre-Sessional English course.

Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2024/25 £8,820.00per year
Full-time international 2024/25 £16,380.00per year
Part-time 2024/25 Part time fees will be calculated on a pro rata basis
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,100.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £17,000.00per year
Part-time 2025/26 Part time fees will be calculated on a pro rata basis

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships for International Students

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Explore our international scholarships.

Apply now

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Enrolment dates

September 2024

September 2025