Interest in issues of sustainable development, environmental justice, and geopolitics and security has never been so intense, as recognised by the investment in so-called ‘global challenges’ research. The MRes in Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice is especially suited for students looking to progress to PhD study in these areas. It combines core concepts with intensive research methods training in the form of a long-form dissertation that is ideal preparation for further postgraduate study including PhD programs. Reflecting the collaborative and outward facing nature of our research culture, the curriculum also includes the potential for innovative placements and research engagements with external partners.
In the Department of Geography you’ll join a vibrant research community (ranked 2nd in the UK for research excellence in the most recent REF2014 assessment) and contribute to our renowned research culture with your own independent dissertation project. In particular, you will work with the leading researchers based in our Department of Geography’s Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice (GDSJ) research group, which currently consists of over 20 research-active staff and 35 PhD students. You will also benefit from the GDSJ’s links to scholars in Politics and International Relations, Information Security (including the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Cyber Security for the Everyday) and the GeoHumanities.
Study the MRes in Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice at Royal Holloway, University of London and you’ll address the complex, dynamic future of developmental, social, geopolitical and economic processes that aim to secure justice globally. You’ll learn to tackle issues that are high on the national and international agenda, graduating with excellent employability prospects in the UK and abroad, and a range of transferable research skills to take into your chosen career, including further postgraduate study.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key social and environmental relationships, incorporating contemporary issues in the geographies of sustainability. You will look at the concept of 'risk society', sustainable cities, and the impacts of corporate sector activities on the environment. You will consider the challenges to sustainable development at household and community levels, with a focus on community-based approaches to sustainable development.
In this module you will develop an understanding of research methods used for exploring the social sciences. You will look at the key methods used by social scientists, with teaching delivered by those who have practical experience in their field. You will look at the research process and explore research beyond the field, becoming familiar with the practical considerations of a range of methods, their benefits and challenges, their epistemological basis, and their ethics.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how your cultural geography learning is relevant beyond the academy. You will critically reflect on the role of impact and knowledge exchange in the contemporary academy, examining how you may put your cultural geographic ideas into practice.
The dissertation gives you the opportunity to study an aspect of geopolitics and security, in-depth, by managing and carrying out your own piece of research and analysis. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor who will help you develop your research aims and objectives, identify bodies of relevant literature, establish a particular strang of conceptual thought, and select appropriate research methods for the collection and analysis of data. You will produce an extended written report of 15,000 words, and will be encouraged to work with an external organisation to build a network of contacts and relationships to facilitate your future career.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the politics, policies and practices of resilience. You will look at how emergencies are governed through their articulation in an evolving apparatus of resilience discourses, techniques and technologies in liberal-democratic societies. You will consider relevant literature in geopolitics and international relations, examining a variety of perspectives on resilience, from its emergence in post-war cybernetics, political-economic theory and industrial unrest, to contemporary legislation, planning practices, scenario building and simulated training experiences.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of international law and how these are applied to targeting during armed conflict. You will look at what the law consists of and how the legal rules are represented in writing. You will also consider how the legal rules are applied in practice, in relation to particular types of attack, examining topics of current controversy, such as civilians and the notion of direct participation in hostilities, use of unmanned vehicles, and cyber attacks.
In this module you will develop an advanced knowledge of the key concepts, themes and issues in United States Foreign Policy. You will look at both the history of US foreign policy as well as contemporary issues, utilising readings of key texts on a weekly basis to provide you with an in-depth exploration of these issues and how Americans think about foreign affairs.
In this module you will put your knowledge of sustainable development and research methods into practice through a piece of independent research based on primary data collection in the UK or overseas. You will consider the choice of methodology and examine the limitations of the chosen methods. You will analyse the primary data and communicate your research findings in written form using figures and diagrams where appropriate.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the history, strategies and technologies of the inter-relationship between media and military institutions. You will look at the development and management of information and communication in moments of crisis, taking part in a 'live scenario' simulation. Working in small teams, you will consider the structure and content of military campaigns and media reporting. You will prepare an action plan and given a presentation in which you analyse a complex crisis scenario with a particular focus on media and military narratives.
Given the complexity and controversy of events and occurrences in international affairs, it seems strange to think that the disciplines of international relations and political theory were considered to be separate in the 20th Century. In this module you will look at the re-emergence of international political theory after the Cold War, developing a comprehensive understanding of international events. In doing so, you will examine and evaluate key ideas about the central notions of sovereignty, the rights of states and individuals and what justice means in an international context. You will engage with material at the cutting edge of contemporary political and international relations theory, thinking about issues that will be of increasing importance in the 21st century.
- The Armed Forces and Society
In this module you will develop an understanding of the changes to post-Cold War defence policy. You will look at the new objectives of defence policy, military capabilities, force structures and doctrines of the world’s major military powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia). You will analyse the extent to which these reforms have helped the state concerned to meet its central security challenges. You will explore the embedding of defence policies within regional and international institutions and the sources of defence cooperation, analysing the role and implications of non-state actors in defence, notably private military companies and non-governmental organisations.
This module introduces you to the basic concepts of international law and how these concepts are applied to the use of cyber force and the conduct of cyber operations, including cyber attacks during an armed conflict. You will consider when a cyber act amounts to an unlawful use of force, what cyber activities justify the resort to self defence, how to evaluate the lawfulness of different cyber weapons, and what rules govern their use. You develop an understanding of the current legal framework and consider how it can be applied to this new medium.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is by coursework only. Formative feedback and detailed ongoing discussion of work before final submission is a central part of the teaching ethos of the course. Students also have significant autonomy in the selection of topics for coursework and dissertation allowing them to develop particular interests and specialisms.
Each module has a specific assessment as follows:
- Key Concepts in Justice, Development and Sustainability – 5000 word essay (20 credits)
- Research Methods for Social Science – group presentation and 2000 word dissertation proposal (20 credits)
- Social Media & Audiencing – blog posts and a podcast or video (20 credits)
- Dissertation – 35000 - 40000 word dissertation (120 credits)
Please note, these modules are currently provisional and are subject to module validation.
Geography, Politics, International Relations, English, History and Classics, Sociology and Philosophy. Other disciplines may be considered.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘good 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements please see here.
Your future career
Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice at Royal Holloway, University of London has a strong emphasis on skills development and employability, putting graduates in an excellent position to progress to further study or a rewarding career in their chosen field. Ideal for both recent graduates and professionals seeking further training, this programme will provide you with excellent field experience, placement and networking opportunities for a career working in commercial or political organisations such as banking, energy, media, think tanks, NGOs and government, where risk (management), threat and insecurity are critical to strategic policy development..
Our recent alumni have progressed to fulfilling careers in government, the media, risk and security consultancies, non-governmental organisations and public organisations both in the UK and abroad. An ideal stepping stone for PhD progression, Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice will help you to achieve your career and academic ambitions.
- 90% of Royal Holloway graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
- Study a programme with a strong emphasis on skills development and employability.
- Graduate with a Masters degree in a field with excellent graduate employability prospects.
Fees & funding
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £8,100
EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £17,200
Other essential costs***: You should allow for up to £150 for travel and subsistence from campus to London for fieldwork and trips to organisations and societies.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.
All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
** For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award an automatic fee reduction which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.