MA by Research Strategy and Security

Duration Full time 2 years
Part time 3 years
  • Security and Strategy
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September or January


The MA by Research in Strategy and Security has been developed to allow you to undertake a research project in an area that interests you within a shorter timeframe than a MPhil or PhD. 

The award of an MA by Research will provide clear evidence to employers, whether academic or professional, of your ability to conduct independent research and to produce original material within a prescribed timescale. It is ideal both for those who want to pursue careers with a significant research element and for those already in such forms of employment who are interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project without taking a career break.

The MA by Research is intended both as an award in its own right or as a progression route to a PhD and successful students have the option to transfer to an MPhil or PhD on completion. If you are interested in converting to an MPhil or PhD at a later stage, the MA by Research is also sufficiently flexible to allow you to do so.

As there is no taught element to the MA, students can complete their research projects via distance learning. Regular supervision and advice will be made available to all students undertaking the MA but distance needs will be accommodated by web-based communication as well as face-to-face supervision. As members of the Strategy and Security Institute, students on the MA by Research will also be offered opportunities to attend some of our key events at no additional cost. These will include our annual RUSI-based policy workshop and Crisis Watch Conference.

A Masters by Research degree is assessed by a written dissertation of up to 40,000 words. Your dissertation will not need to constitute an original contribution to knowledge but it will need to provide evidence that you have worked at the current limits of understanding of the subject. There is no taught element, so dedication and enthusiasm for your subject are essential. As with other research students, you may be required to sit in on all or parts of certain modules though. This will follow an initial analysis of your training needs and proposed topic.

Full support for your project will be offered to you throughout. You will be supervised in preparing your thesis by a member of staff with expertise appropriate to your chosen area of study, and, by prior agreement you may be be provided with access to one of the SSIs honorary fellowship network. 

Research areas

Our research agenda is broad and inclusive, incorporating people working across the whole spectrum of contemporary security issues. We have a vibrant, collaborative and interdisciplinary research culture and our international community of researchers and practitioners has an excellent record of winning external funding and promoting collaboration and impact.

We offer research supervision on a range of topics. These include:

  • Integrated approaches to conflict prevention and management
  • The changing character of contemporary conflict including counter-insurgency and cyber security
  • International efforts to stabilise failed, failing or fragile states
  • Middle East and North African security
  • Decision-making and leadership in strategy
  • Strategy and security in the contemporary world
  • Strategic understanding
  • Defence reform and strategy in the context of wider public policy with particular reference to the UK, US, NATO and the Middle East
  • Science, technology and security policy
  • Strategy in application
  • Humanitarian intervention and the laws of armed conflict
  • Civil-military relations, strategic culture and security sector governance
  • Arms control and non-proliferation including sensitive technology and arms export controls
  • US-European security and defence relations and the role and future of NATO
  • Domestic security, public resilience and counter-terrorism
  • The politics of defence industrial consolidation in Europe and the US
  • Ethics of the use of armed force

We recommend that you check the research interests of our staff to ensure that your proposed research area fits with those of the Institute.


The Strategy and Security Institute is an interdisciplinary research centre established by the University of Exeter to directly address the strategic deficit of a world beset by instability and insecurity.

Building on a critical mass of expertise within the University and a cohort of strategic partners from other organisations, the Institute carries out research, consultancy and teaching in the field of global security and strategy, particularly relating to how individuals and organisations of all kinds deal with conflict, unrest, and crisis under intense pressure.

Entry requirements 2018

A good Honours degree (2:1 or equivalent) in any discipline from a recognised institution.


Many applicants may find that they possess extensive work experience, e.g. two years or more, or have attained professional qualifications but have not completed formal degrees. Non-academic achievements are taken into consideration and exceptions can be made for candidates with relevant experience or professional qualifications. Individuals who do not meet the formal admissions criteria may be required to submit examples of work or to participate in an interview.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding


Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information. If you are considering a PhD in the future, in addition to University of Exeter funding, we have been successful at securing postgraduate funding for PhD research through our Funded centres.

Funding opportunities

Find out about current funding opportunities for our Politics research programmes.

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Contact us

The College of Social Sciences & International Studies has a dedicated Graduate Research School which is committed to supporting its vibrant postgraduate research student community.

The Graduate Research School helps to support both intellectual and social contact between graduates of different disciplines and from different backgrounds and countries. Our team supports both prospective and current postgraduate research students.

Phone: +44(0) 1392 724490


Debbie Ironside-Smith
SSI Administrator

Phone: +44 (0) 1392 72 4802