Master's degree programme in Human Security


Human Security

Human Security is a unique Master’s programme and the first of its kind in Europe. During 2 years of cross-disciplinary studies the Master Student will achieve a deeper understanding of social and environmental conflicts around the world, i.e. how to analyse and intervene in a complex of interweaving social, economic and political factors. The Master’s programme is lead by the Department of Anthropology, and located at Campus Moesgaard south of Aarhus city.

What is Human Security?

During recent years, the concept ’human security’ has become a rallying point for understanding and working with processes of (human) development in unstable environments marked by social and environmental conflicts. Particularly the growing challenges posed by global environmental changes threaten to trigger a rapid escalation of conflicts throughout the world as competition over access to scarce resources intensifies, supplies of essential commodities dwindle and global population rates continue to increase.

Challenging conventional understandings of security

Human security is more than an absence from physical aggression. As a cross-disciplinary development approach, the Master in Human Security comprises not only various forms of militarized and physical security; it also refers to secure access to water, food, land and education.

Why become an expert in Human Security?

The climate is changing, resources are declining, and social tension is on the rise. How can people – in the Global South as well as the Global North – lead safe and secure lives, now and in the future, under these conditions? That is the challenge that the Master in Human Security enables you to meet.

Strong competences and future job opportunities

The Master in Human Security is unique in that it takes a holistic approach to development in a changing natural and social world. You will acquire a hands-on extension of your bachelor’s degree – whether your BA is from the social or natural sciences.

The competences that this master’s programme gives you are in demand, both now and in the future. Human Security aims at employment opportunities in the development sector. These might include:

  • National and international NGOs
  • Governmental development organisations
  • UN organisations (e.g. UNHCR or UNDP)
  • Development consultancies

Highly qualified lectures from 4 departments at Aarhus University

During the Master’s programme in Human Security you will study and work with students from Denmark and abroad. Furthermore, you will achieve expert knowledge and skills from both social and natural scientists who have practical work experience in relation to environmental and development issues around the world.

 The 4 departments involved in the Master's programme are:

Besides the affiliated scientific staff at Aarhus University visiting lectures from abroad will give courses throughout the two-year Master"s programme.

The Master’s degree programme in Human Security counts as two years of full-time study (120 ECTS credits). 

Read, print and be inspired

Download and print a short presentation of the MSc in Human Security programme 2015.

Frequently asked Questions

Which Bachelor’s degree (BA) will give me direct access to the Master’s programme in Human Security?

  • The short answer is none! The long answer is: Each application that meets the academic requirements for admission (see below) goes through an academic assessment. There is a restricted admission of 30 students to the Master’s programme, starting September 1 every year.
  • Basically, to fulfill the academic requirements for admission your Bachelor’s degree has to contain 90 ECTS-credits within the field(s) of ‘Society and development-related studies (e.g. political science, sociology, anthropology, development studies or the like) and/or environment-related studies (e.g. biology, geography, agricultural science or the like) - and you will need to fulfill the English language request (read the general admission requirements).
  • Furthermore, when selecting the 30 most qualified candidates among the applicants that fulfil the academic requirements for admission, there will be an emphasis on practical work experience (e.g. experience within the field of development or environmental analysis) and the applicant’s statement of relevance. Read more about documentation here.

Notice that for Danish applicants with a Danish BA there is a concrete list of Bachelor’s degrees from Danish Universities which qualify directly for the academic assessment. See the academic regulations.

How do I know if my Bachelor’s degree (BA) fit the admission requirements?

To qualify for an academic assessment - besides the English language request - you will need 90 ECTS-credits within either ‘society and development-related studies’ or ‘environment-related studies’ (see answer to the first question). If your BA doesn’t fulfil the admission requirements you might be able to supplement e.g. with an elective subject or a ’course taken ‘during daytime’, Such Single Subject Courses requires payment of a tuition fee – read more here

Is the programme theory or practice-oriented?

Both. And highly cross-disciplinary as well. The Master’s programme is divided into three parts: 1) The theoretical module, 2) The methodological module and 3) Thematic and regional specialisation. See structure and content. 

During my academic career I have studied in English, do I need to take a TOEFL or IELTS test?

According to the Danish Ministry of Science's Order no 181 of 23 February 2010 on Admission to Danish Universities, all applicants with non-Danish examinations to Master's programmes taught in English must document English language qualifications comparable to an 'English B level' in the Danish upper secondary school ('gymnasium'). You don’t need a TOEFL or IELTS test if you have an English-taught entrance examination (upper secondary school/high school) or Bachelor’s degree as documentation.

Can I apply for a scholarship at Aarhus University?

You can’t apply for a scholarship at Aarhus University. You can only be nominated through your application for admission for a Master's programme. Read more here. 

I am not sure which papers should be included in my application, and what is meant by a 'certified copy'?

Find out what to include in your application here.  At the same page you will find more information about the ‘certified copy’ (e.g. of your exam papers) which require original stamps and signatures as proof of its authenticity.

Still in doubt? Contact the Guidance Counselling here

I have done some volunteer work for a NGO, how is practical experience valued? 

In the selection of the 30 most qualified candidates among the applicants who fulfil the admission requirements the main emphasis is on the applicant’s academic background (75 %). However, practical experience counts as well (25 %). 

What is the maximum number of students each year?

Each year a maximum of 30 full-degree students will be admitted to the Master’s programme in Human Security. In case of free slots other students will have the possibility to choose single courses as electives. 

Online lectures on human security (TED Talks etc.)

Listen to Jody Williams talk about World Peace (approximately 11 minutes). Jody Williams has worked in charity and has for many years tried hard to create better conditions and security for people in need. In 1997 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ban land mines.

Johan Rockström talks about how man has increased the pressure on the planet’s sustainability and how we can get help from the environment to protect our planet (approximately 18 minutes). Johan Rockström is a sustainability researcher at Stockholm University.

The disaster in Haiti has been going on for a long time and has cost many lives. Peter Haas talks about why construction work and infrastructure is important for Haiti’s future (approximately 8 minutes). Peter Haas in one of the founders of AIDG – the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group – an organisation that helps communities get access to electricity, better sanitation and clean water.

You may also have a look at the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS). The UNTFHS hold the objective to finance activities which translate the human security approach into practical actions. 



Admission requirements

In order to be admitted to the Master’s degree programme in Human Security, you must have completed a Bachelor’s degree including a minimum of 90 ECTS within either

  • Society and development-related studies (e.g. political science, sociology, anthropology, development studies or the like)
  • Environment-related studies (e.g. biology, geography, agricultural science or the like)
  • The Board of Studies decides, based on individual assessment, whether applicants with other Bachelor's degrees than the above have the academic qualifications required for their application to be accepted.

Language requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. 

Read how to document your language qualifications

Number of seats offered

30 (This number is a guideline only and may be subject to change by the university.)

Selection Criteria

As the Master’s programme only admits 30 students each year meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme.

In evaluating qualified applicants, the admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the following criteria:

1. Academic background (75%)

  • Average mark (i.e. GPA) – Bachelor’s degree (25%)
  • Average mark (i.e. GPA)– relevant courses within social sciences and/or environmental studies (25%)
  • The number of relevant courses within social sciences and/or environmental studies (measured in ECTS) included in your Bachelor’s degree (25%)

Please note that marks/grades obtained after the time of application will not be included in the GPA.

The admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the information provided by diplomas, transcripts, course descriptions/academic regulations (curricula) and the statement of relevance.

2. Other relevant experience within the field of development, environmental analysis and/or conflict analysis and management (25%)

  • Relevant work experience
  • International, cultural or organizational experience

The admissions committee assesses each applicant on the basis of the information provided by the CV, Statement of relevance and other relevant documentation.


In addition to the general documentation requirements, you must upload the following documentation to your application:

  • Statement of relevance: A brief statement in English (1-2 pages) outlining your motivation for attending this MA programme. The statement should explain:
    • The relevance of your BA degree (and the individual courses) in relation to the Masters programme in Human Security
    • Your career plans
    • Relevant work experience
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) describing your relevant educational and work experience in chronological order.

Programme structure

In the following graphical presentation of the subject you can see the different modules and courses that, in addition, link to the course catalogue where you can read the course descriptions.

Since we have a new administration system, there are still some elements that do not work. We are working on the graphical presentation for the master’s subject and adding links to the course catalogue.


Academic regulations

As a student it is important to know the regulations for your chosen subject: what is the content, how is it structured and what does it require from you. You can find this information in the academic regulations.

Student life

The Master's degree programme in human security targets students with an international academic profile or who are interested in an international career. Human Security is based at Moesgaard – an old manor house located just south of Aarhus. Here you have access to a library, a common room, the Moesgaard Museum and beautiful countryside.

Your fellow students come from a wide range of academic backgrounds and countries. This creates a lively and colourful study environment which encourages engagement initiative and involvement.

We make sure you get to know your fellow students well from the very beginning and plan an introduction comprising both study-related and social events that promote a pleasant and supportive study environment.

In addition to the events relating to human security, there are many other activities around the university you can participate in. You can see a small selection of future events on the university's joint calendar. You are also welcome to participate in other activities such as lectures, regattas and Friday bars.


Student-to-student is your opportunity to ask about being a student at the Faculty of Arts and about Aarhus and Denmark in general to another international student who has already taken the leap and now lives in Denmark and studies for his/her Master's degree at the Faculty of Arts.

You can read more about the student-to-student service and find the list of AU international student ambassadors at Arts here.

Read more about the study environment at Aarhus University.

Colm Power, student at the Human Security programme

The general atmosphere among students and professors is simply great and there is a unique spirit within the group of Human Security students. As a political scientist I expected a stronger focus on national and international policies. The anthropological approach of the programme opened up a totally new and different angle to me and to my understanding of environmental challenges.




Follow the study life at





Jobs and careers

With the title Master of Social Sciences in Human Security, you are qualified to work with topics of special relevance to developing countries. The human security programme is  internationally oriented and prepares graduates for careers in NGOs, government aid organisations, UN organisations and private consultancy firms that administer and implement development and disaster aid.

As a graduate of the programme, you will be qualified to work with:

  • Project and programme management
  • Review, evaluation and strategy analysis
  • Negotiation
  • Policy development
  • Research

Competence profile

The Master’s degree programme provides the following qualifications and competences:

  • Expertise in the critical evaluation of texts involving environmental analysis, anthropology and social science theories as well as detailed empirical studies.
  • The ability to carry out an informed and critical analytical assessment of human and environmental safety.
  • The ability to apply both science and social science approaches to the understanding of conflict and environment analysis and the ability to combine the approaches in real-life contexts.
  • The ability to establish scientific arguments or theories at a high academic level and adopt a critical approach to the inherent methodological and theoretical assumptions.
  • The tools required to communicate research results in both academic and non-academic contexts, orally as well as in writing.
  • Knowledge and ability to apply qualitative and quantitative methodologies when carrying out investigations relating to environment and conflict analysis.
  • The ability to produce new knowledge about complex contexts that influence environment and conflict analysis in a global context.
  • The necessary skills to take part in multidisciplinary international teams and to carry out project work, including the design of projects that comply with specific guidelines.
  • A multidisciplinary, solution-oriented approach that is open to new ideas, techniques, methodologies and points of view.

Job opportunities and human security

“There"s a great need for a degree programme like Human Security with graduates who are able to analyse ‘human security’ in relation to conflicts, environment and climate change. (…) Human security graduates will be able to find employment within a wide range of companies, organisations, Danish and foreign governmental organisations as well as multilateral organisations, where they can work as generalists, specialists, consultants, analysts or advisors in the implementation process.”

Anders Baltzer Jørgensen, Danida 

Human Security is a completely new degree programme, but there are plenty of opportunities for getting a job after graduation. There are many potential employers who are interested in graduates from this internationally oriented degree programme. If you are interested in working with human rights, there are many NGOs that work with humanitarian projects, e.g. the Red Cross, the Danish Refugee Council, CARE, IBIS and many more.

Perhaps you are more interested in international organisations such as the UNDP, UNICEF or the World Bank, or perhaps aid to the developing world is what interests you most. If so, organisations like Danida, Norad and USAID can use you. It is also possible to work for ministries of the environment or conflict handling bodies where you work for government authorities handling aid distribution, for example.

The many companies dealing with human security also offer opportunities for focusing on food safety, natural resources and climate change in Africa or for working for companies like VedvarendeEnergi, QualiTree or Undesert. Regardless of your field of interest, there is no doubt you will be able to use everything you learn.

PhD programme

You have the option of applying for admission to the PhD programme at the faculty’s Graduate School. You can apply when you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and one year of your Master’s degree studies or when you have completed your Master’s degree. For more information about PhD degree programmes at Aarhus University, click here.

Alumni network

As a graduate, you can join the alumni association at Aarhus University. There is no specific alumni association for Human Security, but you can join the association for the entire university.

Read more about the alumni association Gerda and its events and other offers.

Career Guidance

Please contact the Student Counselling Office for advice about employment opportunities and the subject profile options of your degree programme.

You can also read more about a range of career guidance services including special events and workshops at AU Career.


In the third semester you have an opportunity to incorporate a study period abroad (fieldwork/work placement). You therefore get an opportunity to get out and experience what you can do with your degree programme and at the same time establish an international network in addition to your existing study network.

Remember that it takes time to plan a study period abroad. Therefore, it is a good idea to begin your planning when you start your degree programme. Feel free to contact the International Centre, talk to the international student guidance officer for the degree programme or write to the Student Guidance Office at the Department of Culture and Society.

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Revised 2015.11.18

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