Master in International and Security Politics


Program Description

The politics of violence and uncertainty

The master’s degree in International and Security Politics focuses on key international security issues generated by armed conflict, terrorism, climate change, and transnational migration across the world. At the intersection of defense policy, economics, peacekeeping, and international relations, this training program provides a strong understanding of how public and private actors address these issues and try to solve them, as well as expertise for analyzing contemporary forms of conflicts and hostility, locally as well as globally.


In addition to being an absolute priority for governments across the world, security has colonized our language as much as our everyday lives. Not a day goes by without politicians and media outlets mentioning yet another ‘security issue’. The master’s program in International and Security Politics asks what this tells us about our contemporary world and whether our world has really become more dangerous and uncertain than before.

At the intersection of international relations studies, security and defense studies, political theory, sociology, and history, this program provides a deep understanding of how security and international security transform both conceptually and practically in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world. It does so by analyzing the role of different actors in shaping and addressing security issues which develop beyond the single framework of action of States. The program seeks to provide students with the necessary critical skills for understanding and addressing the social-political mechanisms driving security-related issues (from transnational armed conflicts and violence to environmental and IT security), and the growing uncertainty attached to them.

This program in International and Security Politics will enable students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to diagnose security problems and design appropriate security policy solutions, and to occupy key professional positions in national administrations as well as international and non-governmental organizations. Students will not only benefit from the academic environment of the School, but also from the practical knowledge of security practitioners and experts within various seminars such as a joint seminar with the French Army Command (based in Lille) and the research seminars co-organized with the Collaborative Observatory on Terrorism, Antiterrorism, and Violence (OCTAV). 

Career opportunities

  • Public administration at the national and sub-national level: ministries, regional and local authorities, but also other public administration agencies recruit experts in public policy;
  • International and European organizations: the European Union, the FAO, the OSCE or the European Environment Agency;
  • NGOs, Think Tanks, trade unions, interest groups, and lobbies open recruit experts with backgrounds in political science and international affairs;
  • Businesses are increasingly recruiting people qualified in international affairs;
  • Academic career: students graduating from our MA can also access Ph.D. programs in order to pursue an academic career.

Study plan

Semester 1

Core courses

  • Global History
  • International Relations
  • Research courses
  • Introduction to Research & Epistemology
  • Political Science Research Methods

+1 optional course

+1 intensive language module

+1 career development course

Semester 2*

Core courses

  • Theories of Security & Contemporary Challenges
  • Armed Conflicts and Peacemaking
  • Research courses
  • Statistics and the Political Sociology of Quantification
  • Academic Writing Workshop

+1 optional course

+1 intensive language module

+1 career development course

* The second semester can also be completed in one of our 140 partner universities across the world.

Semester 3

Core courses

  • Cyber Security
  • War, Terrorism, and Violence

+ master’s dissertation

+1 intensive language module

Semester 4

Core courses

  • Sovereignty and the State in International Relations
  • Politics of International Law

+2 optional courses

+1 intensive language module

+1 professional internship

Optional courses

In semester 1, 2, and 4, you will be able to further tailor your degree to your interests by choosing from a broad offer of optional courses, such as:

  • Defense Policy in Practice
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • European Governance
  • Digital Democracy
  • Global Economic Governance
  • International Development
  • European History
  • Global Justice
  • etc.

ESPOL Master’s admission procedure

How to apply

  1. Choose your preferred master’s program
  2. Review the eligibility and admission criteria 
  3. Take a language test (or provide results from a recent test; see below)
  4. Ask 2 former professors for reference letters, make sure to do this early enough to ensure your referees have enough time to reply.
  5. Create your account and submit your application through the admission platform:
  6. Send the requested documents to: 
  7. When accepted, complete your registration on 

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for admission, students are required to submit:

  • An undergraduate level degree (180 ECTS or equivalent) at the time of entry to ESPOL. In principle, the ESPOL masters are open to all disciplinary backgrounds but previous courses in political sciences will be appreciated. Additional classes can be imposed for students without a political science background.
    • A Master level degree for countries in which universities do not award undergraduate qualifications.
  • A personal statement in English. Personal statements explain your interest in the study program and its aims.
  • A CV in English.
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions previously attended (including exchange programs).
  • Proof of English language proficiency through one of the following completed tests (proof of registration for a test is not enough):
    • TOEFL – 80 iBT or 550 PBT or 60 PDF
    • IELTS Academic – 6.0
    • PTE Academic  – 54
    • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) – grade C

To meet the needs of students who are unable to take an English test at a center due to the current situation, ETS is temporarily offering the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test.

A language test is not required for native English speakers or students with an undergraduate/graduate degree in English.

  • Two academic references, in English or French

Please do not add extra documents to your application beyond those listed above.

Admission criteria

Several criteria are taken into account for the evaluation of the admission:

  • Academic excellence: academic background and results.
  • Professional experience, including internships and public engagement.
  • Future plans and motivation, as explained in your personal statement.
  • Personal background.


The ESPOL Master admission procedure is supervised by the Admission Committee. The Admission Committee is led by the Director of  Master’s Programs and is composed of the director of ESPOL and the Co-Directors of the Master’s Programs. The Admission Committee meets 5 times per year. The Admission Committee is supported in its tasks by the Admission Officer.

The standard procedure of admission at ESPOL involves 4 phases:

  • The eligibility phase: the eligibility of the candidate is checked by the Admission Officer. Eligibility status is communicated with the candidates by the Admission Officer as soon as possible through the admission platform.
  • The evaluation phase: desk-based evaluation of eligible candidates by two academic members of ESPOL, appointed by the Admission Committee, and following the admission criteria described above. Based on this double evaluation, the Admission Committee decides on the admission of the candidate to the interview phase.
  • The interview phase: candidates accepted to the interview phase are invited (by email) to an interview with one of the members of the Admission Committee. The interviews take place on Skype or face-to-face in Lille.
  • The admission decision: based on the results of the evaluation and the interviews, the Admission Committee decides upon the admission of the candidates. A candidate can be rejected, accepted, or waitlisted (see below). The final decisions of the Committee are communicated to the admission officer, who shares the individual decisions with the candidates by email and through the admission platform.

After the admission

  • Accepted candidates get an official acceptance letter by email. They are given a four (4) week registration deadline. While enrolment may still be possible once the registration deadline has passed, ESPOL only guarantees enrolment to candidates registered by the deadline.
  • Waitlisted candidates: Wait-listed students have not been formally accepted nor rejected and are offered admission if/when spaces become available, in the order defined by the Admission Committee. Spaces become available when accepted candidates have declined to register for the MA, or when the registration deadline for a candidate has passed. Every application round has its own waitlist. Waitlisted candidates who are offered admission are given a four (4) week registration deadline. While enrolment may still be possible once the registration deadline has passed, ESPOL only guarantees enrolment to candidates registered by the deadline.
  • Rejected candidates get an official rejection letter by email.

Appeal procedure

Candidates can appeal the decision of the Admission Committee by addressing a written statement within four weeks following the date of the decision. The appeal will be considered by the Admission Committee during their next following meeting. Appeals brought later than four weeks following the date of the initial decision will not be considered.


ESPOL’s Student Excellence Grant

As part of our commitment to talent, ESPOL issues Student Excellence Grants every year. The grants are intended to provide a source of financial support to the best candidates who have been offered admission for one of ESPOL’s master’s programs. The grant will be allocated primarily to incoming master students who have confirmed enrolment.

Grant criteria

The Student Excellence Grants are allocated based on the following criteria:

  • The degree of academic excellence, demonstrated by the candidate’s previous academic records;
  • The candidate’s motivation and the suitability of her/his professional project with regard to the master’s degree.

When and how to apply

As an accepted candidate to one of ESPOL’s master’s programs, the only thing you need to do to be considered for a Student Excellence Grant is to confirm your enrolment in the chosen program by completing your registration on the admission platform (  and paying the enrolment deposit (or the full tuition fees if you register from July onwards) by the registration deadline stated in your admission letter. Once confirmed, you will be automatically considered for the Student Excellence Grant.

How much you can get and how the grants are paid

Grants typically range from 1000€ to 2000€. The grant is awarded by check to the students once their enrolment in the program is confirmed. In the case of early drop-out or non-validation of the MA program, the total amount of the grant is to be reimbursed.

Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

Political science is a discipline driven by excellence that offers attractive career prospects with a strong international outlook. Living up to this ambition, ESPOL, the European School of Political ... Read More

Political science is a discipline driven by excellence that offers attractive career prospects with a strong international outlook. Living up to this ambition, ESPOL, the European School of Political and Social Sciences, offers an interdisciplinary education oriented towards political careers and Europe. As the successor to the School of Social and Political Sciences created within the Catholic University of Lille in 1894, ESPOL emphasizes on human values and on ethics of responsibilities - indispensable qualities for making one’s way in today’s world. Read less