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Intelligence and Security Studies


School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Politics and History

Start Date(s): September


MA (one year full-time or up to three years part-time)
PgDip (nine months full-time or one year, eight months part-time)

Fees 2018-19:

2019-20 fees will be displayed shortly.

Part-time - £1,260 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,560

International - £13,860

Distance Learning - £1,260 per 30 credit module

In Brief:

  • Ranked as ‘excellent’ by the Centre for Higher Education Development
  • Delivered by experienced staff
  • A pertinent and engaging subject with real-world relevance
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Intelligence and security issues are at the top of the political agenda following the terrorist attacks of September 11th 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. For more information please contact the Programme Leader, Dr. Dan Lomas (

94% of our postgraduates go on to employment and/or further study within 6 months of graduating.DLHE 2009 and 2010

The course comprises of one core module and several optional modules. You can exit the course after the second semester with a -Postgraduate Diploma or progress to the Masters by completing the dissertation in semester 3. 

Semester 1

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.
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 2

Choose two optional modules from:

This module focuses on the specific issues relating to intelligence and internal security, a relatively under researched area that has assumed greater importance in recent years..

Watch our video

Dr Newbery talks about the module 'Security Networks, Intelligence and Internal Security'

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.
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.

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

If you do not wish to continue onto the dissertation project you can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma if leaving the course at this stage.

Semester 3

Students who successfully complete the taught component of the programme may then proceed to the dissertation.

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

Part-time structure

Year 1, Semester 1

Issues in Intelligence (core module) (30 credits)

Year 1, Semester 2

Choose one from:

  • Security Networks, Intelligence and Internal Security (30 credits)
  • The Secret State
  • Middle East and Terrorism (30 credits)
  • Terrorism and the Media (30 credits)
  • Digital Criminal Justice
  • International Criminal Justice

Year 2, Semester 1

Intelligence and Conflict (core module) (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 2

Choose two; one for semester 1 and one for semester 2:

  • Security Networks, Intelligence and Internal Security (30 credits)
  • The Secret State (30 credits)
  • Middle East and Terrorism (30 credits)
  • Terrorism and the Media (30 credits)
  • Digital Criminal Justice
  • International Criminal Justice
  • Year 3, Semester 1 and 2

    Dissertation (60 credits)

Entry Requirements

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

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).

English Language Requirements

International students must provide evidence of proficiency in English- IELTS 6.5 band score (with no element below 5.5) as proof of this.

Suitable For

This course is suitable if you are seeking to go into intelligence and security-related careers in the public and private sectors, as well as those already engaged in such professions who seek to enhance their career prospects through further qualifications. This course also provides excellent foundations for those who wish to pursue a PhD.

Applicant profile

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.

Fees 2019-20

Fees for entry in 2019 will be displayed shortly.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,260 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£13,860
Distance Learning£1,260 per 30 credit module
International Distance Learning£2,310 per 30 credit module

Additional costs

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

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section


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.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Dr Christopher J. Murphy (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.


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.

Career Prospects

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.

Alumni Profile

Mr Michael Langley, MA Intelligence and Security Studies student (2010-11)

‘I have really enjoyed my year studying MA Intelligence and Security Studies at Salford. I have made new friends on the course as well as meeting people from my former degree. I really liked the more challenging work that tested everything I learnt at undergraduate level whilst teaching me many new things. The course and the essays allowed me to use all the research skills that I learned at undergraduate level and put them into practice. The lecturers gave me comprehensive feedback on my modules and were always available to give guidance on my essays. I believe that the MAISS is a very good course and I also think it has placed me in a good position to enter the world of work.’

Links with Industry

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.

Further Study

The University has its own research group for security issues called the Centre for European Security (CES). The group builds on the active research programme provided by the European Security, Terrorism and Intelligence (ESTI) network at the University of Salford. If your doctoral research is in security and intelligence issues you can become an associate member of this group. For more information see our website at

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