Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 22 Hours. (1 x 2 hour seminar per week)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X Seminar presentation  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  35%
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,000 word essay  55%
Supplementary Assessment Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

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 thinking about security through an examination of the main alternative conceptualisations of security that have emerged in recent years. It is a core module for students on the 'Research Training' pathway of the Security Studies programme.


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.


This module provides a critical overview of the study of security in world politics from the perspective(s) of those employing alternative conceptualisations of security to the military-focused, state-centrism at the heart of traditional security/strategic studies. Following in-depth discussion of traditional understandings of security the module discusses various other contemporary attempts to conceptualise the nature of security. The differences and common ground between these approaches is highlighted through a consideration of key debates in contemporary security studies.

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 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