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MSc Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies

Course overview

Start date

January 2018

September 2018

Subject area

Business and Law





On campus

Course summary

This hugely topical course will enable you to get to grips with the theory and practice of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some have just finished their undergraduate studies, often in social sciences, criminology, politics or similar subjects, and are aiming for a career in a criminal justice or related role. Others are already working for the police, prison service or in another crime or security-related role.

All classes take place in the evening, so you will have the flexibility to keep working if you wish. To thrive on this course you should be motivated, open-minded and willing to engage with different perspectives, working in groups as well as on your own.

As a master’s student you will be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study and research, but you will have the support of committed staff and an enthusiastic group of fellow students.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

Get in touch

A pioneering course

Ours was the first course of its kind in England and, having started in 2006, is the longest-running in the UK. 

Learn from industry experts

You will be taught by leading, research-active academics who are regularly called upon to advise governments or provide expert opinion to the media.

Benefit from our superb connections

Our staff have great connections with criminal justice and security agencies. You will benefit from a host of high-profile guest speakers

Enquire Visit UEL

David Otto

MSc Terrorism Studies, now Director of TGS Intelligence & Counter-Terrorism Consultants

The MSc gave me a lot of knowledge and experience. There was a great atmosphere around the course at UEL and I highly recommend it. It helped to give me the confidence and ability to set up the company, which aims to bridge the gap between the West and Africa in de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 Honours in Criminology, Law, Politics, Psychology or Sociology or other related subject areas

We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. 


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.


We will also consider applications from applicants who have relevant work experience, e.g police work.

Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre. Please click here for details.

What you'll study

  • Critical Perspectives on Terrorism (core)
  • Critical Perspectives on Counter-terrorism (core)
  • Transnational Organised Crime (core)
  • Postgraduate Dissertation (core)

Students will choose to study one of the optional modules below.

  • International Criminal Law
  • War and Human Rights
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Law and Policy in the Middle East
  • International Human Rights
  • Current Issues and Research in International Law (option)

How you'll be assessed

Most are assessed either through coursework or examination. You take four modules of 30 credits each. Your dissertation accounts for 60 credits and involves a 15,000 word project.

Course specification

How you'll learn

We deliver the course content in a variety of ways and you will be expected to conduct your own research and reading to support your learning.

Teaching will include lectures and seminars. From our new, state-of-the-art base at University Square Stratford, you will be taught in lectures and groups and be expected to prepare, follow up and work with your fellow students.

You will also benefit from a programme of guest speakers. Our high-calibre staff are very well connected and organise a wide range of talks to give different perspectives on relevant topics.

You will have the opportunity to meet counter-terrorism practitioners and gain insights into how governments and other non-governmental agencies are trying to combat radicalisation.

Recent speakers have included a former member of the IRA, a former counter-terrorism officer with the Metropolitan Police Service and a senior army commander from Northern Ireland.

We also organise regular conferences and events. For example, we hosted the 7th Annual Society for Terrorism Research Conference - a major two-day gathering attended by leading international experts. . 

Our staff have a diverse range of ongoing research interests, and their expertise is brought to bear throughout the course. You’ll be taught by Professors, Readers and other senior staff.

Professor Andrew Silke, the MSc Programme Director, has published more than 100 articles and books on themes that include the psychology of terrorism. He advises governments at home and abroad and is highly sought after as a media commentator.

Dr Anthony Richards has provided briefings on terrorism and radicalisation to the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, while Dr John Morrison is a leading expert in Irish Republicanism, paramilitary vigilantism and the Northen Ireland peace process.

What you'll learn

Digital and social media mean that terrorist atrocities are today just a mouse click away, with the terror threat frequently leading the news agenda.

But how can you really makes sense of what’s going on? This course will provide the context and theoretical framework to give you insights into this ubiquitous subject. 

You will study various perspectives on terrorism and counter-terrorism and learn about transnational organised crime.

In addition to these core elements, you will be able to choose another module, depending on your interests, with options that include Contemporary Islamic Legal Issues and International Criminal Justice

Most of the assessment is by coursework and you will produce a dissertation. Recent topics include prison radicalisation, Boko Haram and terrorism in Yemen.

Your future career

Many people who take this course are already working in – or progress into – a career that is directly relevant to this master’s degree.

Through this course you will gain a depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding about a wide range of terrorism and counter-terrorism-related topics.

This,  combined with the research and communication skills you will have developed by the end of the course, will make you an attractive prospect to a variety of potential employers.

By studying this course you will also be opened up to a network of employers through the strong links our staff have with leading figures in the field of counter-terrorism.

Possible career paths include:

Central government – such as the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Foreign Office, or other departments.

Local government – roles could include Prevent co-ordinator or other community-based work.

Police, prison or probation services – all popular choices for students.

The voluntary sector – a growing number of charities and community groups need staff with expertise in de-radicalisation and an understanding of relevant issues. 

Academia – a small number of our students continue their higher education and go into academic careers. Others may progress into research-related jobs for think tanks.

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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