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Degree type


Course length

1 year full time, 2 years part time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

Our MA in Risk, Security and Politics is for anyone interested in a social science approach to risk, focusing on social policy, politics and security.

The programme is relevant and accessible to anyone from a social science background, including Geography, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. We will also consider applications from students from other specialisms.

Employment opportunities

Employers of our Risk Masters students are interested in hiring professionals with an interdisciplinary and broad understanding of risk, shaped through a conceptually strong understanding of the links between risk, security and politics.

Our MA in Risk, Security and Politics equips you with the skills needed to engage within employment sectors where managing uncertainty is crucial for success. Sectors such as:

  • Security and politics
  • Insurance
  • Social enterprise
  • Emergency response
  • Technology
  • Policy-making
  • Public services, humanitarian and resilience organisations.

What is the programme about?

Understanding and managing risk is ultimately about choice. Our entire society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about how risk is perceived, interpreted, balanced, and mitigated.

This programme explores concepts of risk and resilience, pointing to their political implications. It evaluates how uncertainty plays a critical role in the contemporary making of society and uncovers risk as a political technique for governing populations.

The MA gives you an understanding of risk as an abstraction through which uncertainty is managed and the future secured. You will examine the relationship between risk, knowledge, and politics and learn about the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the social dimensions of risk under conditions of uncertainty.

The MA in Risk, Security and Politics emphasises social science approaches to governing risk, training you to think critically about framing the politics of security, risk and resilience.

As part of the suite of Taught Postgraduate Geography Programmes at Durham University, you will benefit from interdisciplinary teaching that introduces physical and social science approaches to risk. This MA enables you to explore the social dimensions of risk and resilience, especially how questions of security intersect.

For more information our suite of taught masters programmes, click here.

Skills and knowledge

Our Risk, Security and Politics MA equips you with advanced skills in the critical analysis of risk as a governmental approach to a range of global challenges, including climate change, displacement, disasters, geopolitics, security and terrorism.

You will develop a thorough grounding in theoretical and practical approaches to identifying, understanding, framing, assessing and managing risk, as well as the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate risk.

Hear what our student’s say about our taught masters programmes.

Study Risk, Security and Politics through an interdisciplinary framework

Our Department of Geography teaches the core programme modules, and you will receive specialised training in cutting-edge theories, concepts and methods in security, politics and risk.

As an MA in Risk, Security & Politics student, you will choose electives from other Geography Taught Masters modules, the School of Government and International Affairs and the Department of Sociology. This interdisciplinarity creates opportunities for employment for further study after the MA.

We also collaborate closely with Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), enabling you to gain exposure to practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice. IHRR hosts an annual seminar series tailored to students on our climate risk postgraduate programmes providing opportunities to further expand your knowledge.

For more information on teaching styles and module content, click here.

Develop expertise in Risk, Security and Politics through a Dissertation by Research or a Vocational Dissertation

Independent research is a cornerstone of the Risk, Security and Politics MA programme. You will receive training in research methods and design to support this process.

Research dissertations offer you the opportunity to develop and execute original independent research projects, supported by one-on-one tutorials and supervision by staff.

Vocational dissertations combine practical collaborations or placements with external organisations with original problem-oriented research. We organise vocational dissertation partnerships through our large and growing partner and alumni network and offer students the opportunity to work directly with practitioners on problem-oriented research.

We support students to develop vocational research collaborations. Whether undertaking a dissertation by research or a vocational dissertation, we encourage students to consider projects over a broad range of topics exploring geographical approaches to risk. Past dissertations have examined:

  • Perceptions of risk on British railways
  • Intersections of migration, security and geopolitics
  • Risk-based approaches to social inequality
  • The use of biometric technology in refugee governance
  • No-fly and blacklisting in transportation security
  • Urban government resilience policies
  • And intersections of racial, ethnic and economic inequality with health and other risks.

Whether you choose a dissertation by research or a vocational dissertation, you will be expected to demonstrate that you can combine your general training in risk with the understanding of the substance and method associated with your chosen area of research.

Other programmes of interest

Our MA Risk, Security and Politics is one of five taught masters programmes within the Department of Geography. Visit the Department of Geography’s Postgraduate Study page for more information on our masters programmes.

To hear what previous students have to say, click here.

To learn why Durham is a great place for postgraduate study, click here.


A hallmark of our Masters programmes is a participatory and interactive approach to learning, ranging from our delivery of course content to a supportive learning environment. We are particularly keen to get to know our students and work with them individually to develop their learning. Throughout your period of study, you will be supported by an academic advisor who will be fixed for the year of study. You will also be assigned a dissertation supervisor with whom you will work from January to September. Support is also available from the module staff and the course director, and the Learning and Teaching office.

You can expect to receive approximately eight hours of module contact time per week during Terms one and two; however, this amount can vary week to week. Classes are delivered using a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. In total, for full-time study, you will be expected to devote around eight hours per day of study hours during term time, including all assessments. Summative assessments for the taught modules take place as course work and include more traditional forms of assessment such as essays, presentations or reports as well as other forms of assessment such as podcasts and portfolios. Summative assessments are supported by ‘practice’ formative assessments. Over term three and the summer, you will carry out your dissertation research.

Entry requirements

An upper second class degree (2:1).

Band E English language requirements (see here for details.)

Application to the MA Risk, Security and Politics requires:

  • Transcripts of your qualifications
  • English language test certificates if taken
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal)
  • Two satisfactory references (unless you wish to supply referee details so we can contact them for you)
  • Scholarship documentation (if applying)

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,900 per year
EU students £23,900 per year
Island students £12,900 per year
International students £23,900 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our graduates go on to a wide variety of jobs across a broad range of sectors. Our graduates are highly employable owing to the wide range of skills and experience that they develop during their degrees. Each term we invite our alumni to give talks to our students to help them explore different careers. If you want to make sure that you are employable, but also want to leave your options open, then Geography is a great choice.

For more information visit our department pages.

Department information


The Department is notable for its balance of coverage across both human and physical geography, and for its emphasis on interdisciplinary working. We provide a high–quality research environment and excellent facilities. Laboratories for water and sediment analysis, geotechnical studies, geomorphology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction contain cutting-edge research equipment.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 15 For Over a Decade in The QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Geography Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked Joint 1st Nationally based on GPA (REF 2021)


Our departmental facilities include a suite of well-equipped laboratories, a workshop, an extensive field equipment store and a cartographic unit, all of which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff.

More information about our facilities and equipment.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day
Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day