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Human Security

Master's degree programme in Human Security - Introduction

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 Counseling 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. 



Commencement of studies




Examples of qualifying BA-programmes

Lecturers connected to the Human Security programme: 

Michael Eilenberg

Theresa Ammann

Annika Pohl Harrison

Heather Anne Swanson

Mikael Gravers 

Henrik Balslev

Jørgen Aagard Axelsen

Mette Vaarst

Christian B.N. Gade

- Search titles of publications and projects and be inspired by your lecturers' profiles and research activities


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Revised 2014.04.11

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