This level of professional integration makes the MSc stand out compared to other courses, and prepares the students for the context of professional life, rather than insulating them in an exclusively academic context. The practical benefits of interacting with different stakeholders and delivering, under pressure […] is something that cannot be replicated by just lectures alone. We learned through undertaking projects, and working together – a process which the MSc really emphasises and understands the value of.”
If I could summarise what I learned, especially in coming from a non-geography background, was the importance of professional writing, arguing and contextualising ideas concerning geopolitics. […] The academic and investigation skills instructed by my professors (or friends as I can proudly call them) throughout the program continue to help me on an every-day basis.
The Geopolitics & Security programme was a great steppingstone for continuing onto a PhD. It provided me with a solid and up-to-date knowledge of the field and in many ways challenged me to undergo more creative ways of thinking and communicating geographical knowledge. The intimacy of being taught in small groups provided rich opportunities for active participation and made for a very engaging learning environment. The academic staff is both engaging and engaged. They are clearly dedicated to the success of the programme and its students and provided me with valuable support both during and after I completed the MSc. To me, this is at the heart of what makes the programme great.
I recommend the MSc in Geopolitics and Security for students who want a critical understanding of security. As Japan is facing traditional military threats such as Chinese military expansion and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile developments, I am interested in the relationship between security and contemporary militiaries. The materials I frequently use in my articles are the reports released by the Japanese governments and the US governments. Although these materials are supported with the full ‘facts’ of intelligence, they make a strong discourse from which journalists feel difficult to deviate. This course provided me with new perspectives on security. Students can learn about mechanisms by which security and geopolitical discourse are created by various agents through reading, discussion, and writing. The way of thinking I obtained from this course is broadening my journalistic interest and coverage.
My initial reservations about doing a Masters Degree were quickly dispelled by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the professors leading this course. A permanent position at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) on their counter-narrative campaigns vindicated my decision to take the course. Almost every topic covered by the professors, and every skill I learned during the year, proved useful. I was able to draw from so much of what I learned. My post-graduate year at Royal Holloway taught me how geopolitics is essentially the communication of power. At its core it examines the production, dissemination and consumption of information, with a particular focus on being vigilantly critical. Encouraging critical thinking is an integral aspect of effective counter-narrative campaigning. Knowing your audience, and remaining sensitive to the ways in which they access and understand information, is integral to developing impactful counter-speech. I would not have been able to secure a role at the company if not for the quality and thoroughness of the course.
The MSc provided me with a fantastic foundation from which to start my PhD. The structure of the program allows you to gain an in depth understanding of key concepts and case studies in geopolitics and security whilst also enabling you to explore specific areas of interest. In addition to providing a comprehensive academic grounding, the program is geared to equip you with skills for a career in geopolitics through innovative assessments and strong links with external organisations, think tanks, and government bodies. It was an incredibly rewarding and engaging experience and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in geopolitics and security.
What I most appreciated was the open and supportive learning environment in which we were encouraged to pursue research areas of personal and professional interest to each of us. The course challenged us to approach issues of security and insecurity at multiple levels and from different perspectives. Our learning was guided by enthusiastic academic staff equipped with deep and varied expertise, and enhanced through the rich sharing by experienced professionals practicing security in the real world. It was a most enjoyable one year for me.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Human Geography with International Politics at Aberystwyth University, the MSc in Geopolitics and Security seemed like the perfect destination for me. The program gave me the chance to really broaden my horizons academically, and the number of different modules and seminars available certainly developed new interests and avenues for exciting research. The opportunity to work as part of such a small cohort was certainly a major plus; the numerous trips, workshops and group projects helped develop numerous skills – but also gave me the best of memories.
The MSc also allows you to take many different paths with your research, and following the completion of my dissertation on Estonian e-Residency, I received a fantastic offer to begin a 4-year PhD within the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cyber Security here at Royal Holloway. With my interests still firmly grounded in Estonia, I am hoping to begin my research on the Estonian Virtual Data Embassy initiative – with my feet still firmly here in the Geopolitics and Security department.
The Masters in Geopolitics and Security at Royal Holloway is an inspirational and thoroughly rewarding twelve months. You become part of a relaxed and collaborative community from the outset, working alongside lecturers who are leading experts in their respective fields. There is a varied selection of modules designed to accommodate the academic interests of every individual. The course also has a dedicated blog, which is a fantastic space to creatively express your thoughts and provoke wider discussion on current geopolitical issues. For instance, my piece on the securitised response to the Ebola crisis was shared and cited by professors at other institutions around the world. There are numerous opportunities to network with political bodies and think tanks, including visits to the Foreign Office, RUSI and the IMO. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to the dissertation, opening up the possibility of co-operation with external organisations within the UK or overseas. My research was carried out in partnership with a Spanish NGO. The continual support received from staff and colleagues not only creates an environment primed for success, providing the perfect foundation for future careers in or beyond academia, but also makes the course experience an absolute pleasure.
The teaching staff’s ability to balance cutting-edge geopolitical research with ‘real-world’ experience really sets the MSc at Royal Holloway apart from other offerings. The department’s direct links to organisations like RUSI, the FCO, the Royal Geographical Society and the UN’s International Maritime Organisation present a wealth of opportunities for students seeking practical experience or professional networking. The warm, familial feel to the department made every visit to campus a joy. Highlights of the year include war-gaming the MoD’s media management of a Russian invasion of Denmark, volunteering in the largest emergency exercise ever held in the UK, and hearing guest lectures from Met Police intelligence officers responsible for security at the London Olympics. As part of my dissertation research, I also had the fantastic opportunity to chair a workshop at a RUSI conference, and interview senior emergency practitioners at the Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Home Office and the London Fire Brigade.
The range of backgrounds from which students arrive and the various careers within the academy, government and industry that follow are testament to the quality of this Masters course. The high standard of teaching stimulated excellent thought-provoking debate, yet staff were keen to build a relaxed and friendly environment that instilled confidence in my own knowledge and research interests. The course structure and assessment facilitated collaborative working with my peers and encouraged relevant networking opportunities. The ability to think critically about the geographies of socio-economic and political discourses is as fascinating as it as valuable, whether it is explored through a narrative of heightened activity in the Polar regions, a history of US defence policy or – as it was in my dissertation – the gated communities of London’s metropolitan elite. However, the programme went well beyond an insight into current geopolitical affairs by providing key transferable skills that have been the platform for my professional development in roles at an engineering consultancy and now as a civil servant.