Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Critical Security Studies: Contemporary Theories
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x Seminar participation  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  30%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 750 word article review in lieu of seminar participation  10%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  30%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Thorough knowledge of different theoretical understandings of security;
  • Ability to understand key concepts, related theories, and relevant issues;
  • Ability to identify, analyse and evaluate the assumptions and theories that underpin contending conceptualisations of security;
  • Ability to critically analyse and discuss the practical implications of these different conceptualisations of security, and participate in post-graduate level discussions about contending positions in contemporary security studies;
  • Ability to make articulate, concise, persuasive and well-paced presentations in small groups;
  • Ability to engage in critical and constructive debate.

Brief description

This module explores the 'critical' turn in Security Studies through an examination of the main contending conceptualisations of security that have emerged in recent years in distinction to the realist-derived orthodoxy.


This module links directly to the subject specific research training provided in IPM2120 by exploring issues of philosophy and method in the context of security studies. Students will develop the ability to analyse, evaluate and discuss:

- the assumptions, theories and practices that have defined post World War II `traditional security studies?;

- the assumptions and theories that underpin alternative conceptualisations of security, namely various forms of constructivism, post-structuralism and critical theory; and,

- the implications of these alternative standpoints as refracted through recent debates in the area of security studies concerning, inter alia, the most appropriate 'referent object' for security, 'broadening' security beyond military issues, 'securitzation', and the purpose and audience of security studies.


The module provides a critical overview of the study of security in world politics from the perspective(s) of those employing alternative conceptualizations of security to the military-focused and state-centric approaches at the heart of traditional Security/Strategic Studies. Following discussions of understandings of the orthodox approach to the study of security, the module discusses, in turn, various constructivist, Critical Theory, Marxist, discursive, poststructuralist, feminist and sociological attempts to conceptualize the meanings and implications of security in world politics. The differences and common ground between these approaches are highlighted through a consideration of key debates, empirical cases, and theoretical studies. The second half of the module introduces students to the second generation of critical security studies, focusing especially on recent developments in securitization theory and in the exploration of the ethics of security.

Transferable skills

Conceptual thinking is at the heart of this module. Students on the module will learn to think about the relationship between concepts in the field of security studies and underlying theoretical and philosophical positions, on the one hand, and the implications of various conceptualisations to practice, on the other.

Throughout the module, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills and their self-management skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills and will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team-working skills. The review essay will allow students on the Specialist pathway to further develop analytical and communication skills. Essay writing will encourage students on both the Specialist and Research Training pathways to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills.


This module is at CQFW Level 7