What is the teaching structure like? I plan to live at home and commute up on days I need to be in. Will it be like a 1 hour lecture on a Tuesday and then a seminar at a different time/day?
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Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.
Unfortunately I don't have detailed knowledge of the course content, but as the mentor has not replied to you, I would advise that you make an enquiry to the relevant team. At the bottom of the course page (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/govsoc/international-security-terrorism.aspx) there is a 'Make an enquiry' button. Submitting a question there will send it to someone on the team, who will hopefully be able to help!
Best wishes, PG Recruitment
Hello, I am considering a Masters in International Security and Terrorism and was wondering if you could give me a better insight into the course. While I am certainly interested in the degree itself, I'm also doing it as I feel my undergraduate degree in business did not provide me with enough competitive advantage when entering the job market and I now feel it is a good time to specialise. Do you feel you have more job prospects now? I understand you want to go into counter terrorism; have the university given you help towards this (inc any possible internships/ contacts) etc? Or is this course more for theory and research as opposed to practical administration? Thank you!
Hello! I felt exactly the same about my undergraduate degree! In terms of job prospects, it is fully dependent on what career you are hoping to go into. Business is a very transferable degree and I would imagine many sectors would be happy to employ someone with the skills and knowledge you have undoubtedly gained from that! In my opinion, studying a "broad" subject at an undergraduate level still provides you with valuable skills and knowledge that are still incredibly useful and important, even if they do not provide a practical application. Taking a Masters degree, however, allows you to utilise those skills into a more specific career path (unless you are studying for the enjoyment of it, as many do). So, in this sense yes, I do feel I have more job prospects as I have a good foundation in my undergraduate degree, which I am now building on. I also feel more confident applying for jobs, knowing that the degree I am studying is specifically related to the career I have chosen and that employers can recognise that I now have more in-depth knowledge and a real interest in the fields of International Relations and Terrorism Studies.
The course itself is definitely more theory/research-based as the modules are not always specifically related to terrorism. This was something that I wanted from my degree though, having had very little previous experience in studying International Relations - so this is definitely something to consider. Yet, the modules I have studied are still relevant to my chosen field, as they are specific enough to place the study of terrorism into context during my career. The dissertation element is incredibly important too, as this will allow you a lot of scope in applying what you have learned to case studies or to something you wish to explore in more detail. This could mean a practical application, depending on what you wish to pursue. From my experience, most degrees in this field tend to be more theory/research-based purely because of the nature of the content you are studying. I do not feel that this has hindered my prospects though, as I believe that having a theoretical knowledge base is still very important and something that many employers like to build upon.
In terms of internships/placements, again due to the nature of counterterrorism, internships/contracts are unfortunately rather scarce. So again, this depends on what you wish to pursue. The university does have a great Careers Network (see my previous answer to a similar question) that offer help in this regard. Professors and lecturers in the department are also very friendly and are generally willing to help in terms of career advice and guidance!
Hope this helps!
Some courses/universities provide placement schemes or placement units, which usually are advertised on the uni websites. For this specific course I didn't see any placement opportunities being advertised. Did you know of or have you come across placement/ experience opportunities? Thanks.
The MA International Security and Terrorism degree does not provide a placement scheme/unit as part of the degree, however, there is an option to complete the "Trust, Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation" module outside of the course. This is a 5-day training programme, which is offered for free within the MSc Global Cooperation and Security masters, or as an additional course that students do have to pay for. More information on this can be found here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government/courses/masters/modules/polsis/trust-building-conflict-transformation.aspx
There are also opportunities to take part in various workshops and conferences throughout the year, such as Model NATO (this year held in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and Washington DC). So there are plenty of opportunities to enhance your CV alongside your studies, should you choose this course.
Additionally, the main university Careers Network are there to help in finding specific placement and internship opportunities that will suit your chosen career path. The Careers Network provide workshops and you can book individual support sessions with them while you are studying. If you want further information or wish to contact them about placements and internships, they can be found here: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/employability/careers/students.aspx
Hope this helps!
What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?
It was a mixture of things! I always wanted to study as much as possible and as my interest in international relations grew, it became the natural progression for my career. I was also ill during my undergraduate studies and so I never felt that I reached my full potential academically, which motivated me even further. Of course, having a Masters degree is also a very welcome addition to your CV, particularly when it relates to the career sector you are aiming for. My undergraduate degree was very broad and did not lead directly into the career I want, in counterterrorism, and so I felt I needed a more specific qualification. This being said, both degrees are still diverse and transferrable and so I am able to apply the skills I have gained, and am still gaining, into any career.
What, for you, are the best things about the course?
I love the modules I am taking! Aside from a few modules at undergraduate level, I had not studied international relations in depth before, so I wanted a degree that was rigorous, but still introductory in terms of topics and range. My lecturers are also very friendly and approachable, which is absolutely key when studying for any degree, as you do not want to feel as though you are unable to ask questions. Lastly, studying in Birmingham is fantastic, as there is so much going on here. Being able to live at home also really keeps my costs down while studying, which was a big factor for me.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?
Possibly the biggest advice I would give is to thoroughly research the modules that you will be taking. Every course is different and every department will have different research interests. You want to make sure that you will be getting the most out of your course and so taking into account whether you want a broad or specialist range of modules is very important. The universities you are choosing between might offer exactly the same degree title, but have an entirely different range of modules, which will make the degree unique to that department and institution. This means you can be taking the same degree title as someone else at a different university, but study completely different content.
I would also make sure that the assessments you are taking suit your academic strengths. The higher the academic level of your degree, the fewer exams you will take, but not all universities offer the opportunity to study coursework-based masters degrees, as some core modules might require an examination or presentation element - the latter particularly where dissertations are concerned. Luckily, I will not be taking any exams at all for my masters, but if you are like me and hate exams, then definitely look into this as it makes the world of difference when approaching and planning for assessment deadlines!
I would also make sure that a Masters is right for you. It is very easy to graduate and feel as though a Masters is the least traumatic way of avoiding the "real world". This is not true! Postgraduate study is a huge commitment academically and financially, so you need to be sure that it is what you want, or need, for your future development and your career. This being said, if you realise that postgraduate study is right for you, I can promise that it is definitely worth it and you will not regret your decision!