News Archive

Degrees Open Doors

by msecadm4921

A security management degree qualification open doors, students report.

Sean McNulty, a project engineer, is taking a degree in risk and security management. He discusses the pros and cons:

The degree is unusual to the extent we are learning from the approach of risk assessment, management of staff and your rights, intelligence gathering and data analysis, criminology and these are just a few to name the degree is fantastic and full of interesting subjects that are so much part of the security family/setup but almost not even thought about in every day job
related security.

The degree should take approximately four years to complete but due to work commitments the course can be stretched to suit study pace. Pros would have to be that every angle is covered relating to security and risk assesment along with criminal law and getting to research these subjects can put you in touch with some interesting people. And the teaching and support staff are fantastic. The main and only con is time; there is not enough of it!”

David Rubens, founder of consultancy Meido, echoes that single disadvantage; a masters degree takes time, on top of your day job. But if you are umming and ahing about taking a masters, do it, he urges with his customary brio. He has a masters in security management from the Scarman Centre, at the University of Leicester, which has since become the Department of Criminology. He’s now a visiting lecturer at the institution and a marker of dissertations.

– Why did you do it?
David Rubens: Because I was aware that there was a whole world out there; that you needed to get professional status in; and I was interested in that. And it was basically an investment in my future, which has paid off magnificently, I have to say. It was worthwhile.

– What were the advantages and disadvantages, as you were doing the course?
DR: The advantages: first of all, I knew the subject. If you do it, without knowing anything about it, and use it as a way of learning, I don’t think it would work. It took stuff that I knew and it just broadened my awareness of the level of information that is out there, just because you have to read a lot; and there’s a massive amount of information out there, interesting and thoughtful and insightful. And it allowed me to put a structure on what I knew already, so I could now deliver it in a structured and clear way.
The disadvantage is purely time. And I think I was quite typical, it took me three and a half years to do mine, and I was coming to the end of my allowable time. It’s basically six modules, three months per module, and you have to do an essay for each module, and six months for your dissertation. And I think I missed a couple of modules and put them off until later, I was so busy, and then said ‘I’ll do it’.

– What advice would you give to someone umming and ahing?
DR: Do it. You have to take control of it, like any security operation. If you feel, ‘am I up to it?’, it might be worthwhile doing a foundation degree. But most of the people I know, and I have sent people on this course, rae people in their 30s, some in their 40s, who have been involved in the [security] industry . I have said, when you are 45 and 50 and you want to be moving up the ladder, you need a masters, because it’s the thing that will open doors.

– Anything else?
DR: All I would say; from the moment I finished that course, from the day after I got the confirmation, it has been opening doors. I have picked up contracts, I have been offered academic work. It impresses people. It gives you confidence to go in and say, ‘I have a masters degree in security management’, in front of anyone in the world.

What degrees are on offer?

As David Rubens says, what was the Scarman Centre is now renamed the department of criminology at the University of Leicester. Visit

It pays to take even a brief look around the various institutions’ websites – you are looking to invest several thousand pounds in them, after all – to see if particular course modules, staff interests and specialisms, or types of degree, match what is in your mind. At Leicester, reader Adrian Beck has studied retail loss prevention; lecturer Dr Sarah Forrest policing of anti-social behaviour.

Up the A6 in Leicestershire is the campus of the University of Loughborough, which has the The Centre for Hazard and Risk Management (CHaRM).

Staff there include Tom Mulhall, who has a telecoms fraud investigation background, and a research interest in computer crime and related data protection.

With more of a slant towards policing and criminal justice is the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth. It has John Grieve for example, a former Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, as one of its senior research fellows.

Recently featured in Professional Security is Jim Chalmers, the former senior West Midlands Police officer now an authority on football stadium safety and security, who has studied there. If your field is stadium security, your man at Portsmouth is Dr Steve Frosdick; he and Jim Chalmers recently co-authored Safety and Security at Sports Grounds.

The ICJS also has a role in counter fraud training for the NHS’ Security Management Service. The member of staff arguably most connected to private security is principal lecturer Dr Mark Button, author of Private Policing (2002) and with Bruce George MP, Private Security (2000).

There’s other options if you have a specialism like defence, or information security. Options are the University of Cranfield (Frosdick and Grieve got degrees there, visit and Royal Holloway, University of London (, respectively. RHUL offers MScs in information security and ‘secure electronic commerce’.

Cranfield, near Shrivenham in Wiltshire, offers MScs in global security, and military subjects such as explosives.

What might tempt you to invest in one university rather than another? Nearness to your home or workplace may not matter because you will out in the reading and essay-writing in your own time, and meet for

Recommendation from a friend or colleague. Or you may be impressed by the alumni assocation, whether to stay in touch with people you made friends with, or as an old-boys and girls network (by email,these says). In the case of Royal Holloway, for example, you can view online the public and private sector MSc people over the last dozen years:

The mix is of home and abroad, IT and other consultants, police and Royal Mail information security people, and staff from banks and elsewhere in the private sector.

If you have queries about a course – is it the one for me? what’s the mix of distance learning and study weekends at the campus? – or want a feel for the place, you can attend open days. Leicester for instance has long held ‘open afternoons’ for potential students; the next are on March 9 and May 4.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. New courses begin all the time, as universities – seeking revenue like anyone else – seek to respond to demand. For instance, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College set up the Centre for Crowd and Safety Management, which includes event stewarding; and offers foundation degrees in crowd and safety management, and (more about close protection) ‘protective security management’. The centre is also an awarding body for the SIA close protection licence qualification. Head of centre is crowd safety veteran Mick Upton:

Try The Security Institute yearbook for academic and other training courses available, in the UK and beyond. Visit for downloading the 2005 yearbook.

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