Postgraduate MA/PgDip

Intelligence and Security Studies

Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology





One year

Three year

Next enrolment

September 2021


In a nutshell

Intelligence and security issues are at the top of the political agenda following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 and the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the increased availability of intelligence material means that it is possible to place these issues within their historical context.

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

This programme can also be studied by part-time Distance Learning. MA Intelligence and Security Studies (Distance Learning) is currently only open to serving professionals in the armed forces, policing organisations and other related bodies.

You will:
  • Learn from experienced staff
  • Study a pertinent and engaging subject with real-world relevance
  • Develop the skills you need to pursue an intelligence or security-related career

Find out more by signing up to our upcoming Open Day, or if you have any generic questions please contact course enquiries. For specific questions you can contact the programme leader: Dr Dan Lomas.

You can also find helpful FAQS, learn more about student life at Salford or explore all our History and Politics courses. Continue reading to understand more about this MA/PgDip Intelligence and Securities Studies course


students accepted

This is for you if...


You are seeking to go into intelligence and security-related careers in the public and private sectors,


You want excellent foundations to pursue a PhD.


You want to further enhance career prospects through further qualifications

Course details

All about the course

The course comprises of one core module and several optional modules.

Please note that the list of optional modules may be subject to change as the availability varies each year.

You can exit the course after the second semester with a postgraduate diploma or progress to the master's by completing the dissertation in semester three.

If studying part-time, the structure will be as follows (see below for module details):

Year one, semester one

  • Issues in Intelligence (core module) (30 credits)

Year one, semester two

Choose one from:

  • The Secret State (30 credits)
  • Middle East and Terrorism (30 credits)

Year two, semester one

Intelligence and Conflict (core module) (30 credits)

Year two, semester two

Choose one for semester one and one for semester two:

  • Security and Strategic Studies (30 credits)
  • Contemporary Security, Intelligence and Terrorism Studies (30 credits)

Year 3, semester one and two

  • Dissertation (60 credits)
Semester one

Issues in Intelligence

This module introduces you to the theory, practice and history of secret intelligence. The module considers the nature of intelligence studies as a relatively new field of serious intellectual inquiry, and 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.

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?


The course is taught through a combination of:

  • lectures, supported by worksheets, videos, and directed reading
  • seminars, which involve activities such as group discussions, case studies and presentations
  • guest lectures
  • conferences
  • Personal supervision

Module performance is usually assessed by two essays of 3,500 words (50% each). In addition, MA students are required to submit a 14,000 word dissertation.


All our History and Politics courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology.

Our School and University have strong and long-lasting relationships with local and national industry.

Once you graduate with us, you’ll join a thriving alumni community in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Teacher profile

Dr Christpoher J. Murray (Programme Leader)

I am 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.

Selected Publications: Security and Special Operations: SOE and MI5 during the Second World War (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). ‘Command, rather that consultation: Organising Special Operations – the case of SOE’, Public Policy and Administration 25(1) (2010), pp.67-84. ‘SOE’s Foreign Currency Transactions’ in Neville Wylie (ed.), The Politics and Strategy of Clandestine War: SOE, 1940-1946 (London: Routledge, 2006). ‘The Origins of SOE in France’, The Historical Journal 46(4) (2003), pp.1-18. ‘SOE and Repatriation’, Journal of Contemporary History 36(2) (2001), pp.309-323.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

Our graduates follow a range of careers in the civil service, the armed forces, the media, think tanks and research institutions. Some pursue further study at doctoral level.

You will develop a wide range of skills on the course (writing, communication, presentation and analytical skills) that are transferable to a variety of careers in the civil service, the armed forces, international or non-governmental organisations, think-tanks and research institutions. You can also pursue further study at doctoral level.

Career Links

You are encouraged to attend the European Security, Terrorism and Intelligence (ESTI) seminar series. Convened by Dr Christopher J. Murphy, ESTI aims to bring together scholars with a research interest in European security, terrorism and intelligence and to transcend such artificial disciplinary boundaries in order to examine security, terrorism and intelligence issues together, in both their historical and contemporary dimensions.

Recent speakers have included Professor Keith Jeffery, author of MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, and Mr Michael Herman, author of Intelligence Power in Peace and War.


What you need to know

We are looking for people with an interest in pursuing the serious academic study of intelligence and security issues in both their contemporary and historical dimensions. You should be well informed about current affairs, especially in relation to security and terrorism issues, and have your own opinions on these events.


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 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.

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 2021/22 £8,100per year
Full-time international 2021/22 £15,030per year
Part-time 2021/22 £450 per 10 credits for home £835 per 10 credits for international
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.
We have a range of scholarships available for students applying for courses in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Our Global Gold Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,500 and our Global Silver Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,000 - both are available for students studying in our 2021/22 intakes.

We also offer the Salford International Excellence Scholarship which offers up to £5,000 discount on tuition fees. As this is a prestigious award we have a limited number of these scholarships available.

See the full range of our International Scholarships.

Apply now

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Enrolment dates

September 2021

September 2022