Postgraduate Modules: POL6005 - Contemporary Global Security

Module Code

POL 6005

Module Title

Contemporary Global Security


Level 4




30 credits

Taught by:

Dr Melanie Richter-Monpetit

Module Description:

In recent years the study of security has seen a great deal of change. Since the end of the Cold War, and the focus on superpower conflict, the subject of security has been challenged and broadened to incorporate issues such as the environment and economic (in)security. This module will examine a wide range of contemporary global security challenges from theoretically and historically informed perspectives.

The first part of the Module (Seminars 1-3) will provide students with crucial conceptual and theoretical grounding to pursue their own research. Students will be introduced to two of the most central debates in post-Cold War Security studies: What is security? And: How do we know what security is (not)? The second part of the Module will explore key contemporary themes and issues on global conflict and security, while continuing to develop students’ conceptual and theoretical grounding. The final seminar of the term will feature an in-class workshop providing students with the opportunity to present on the research they conducted and receive feedback for their final essay project.

Module Aims:

This module aims to provide students with a theoretically-informed but policy-relevant
understanding of security-related issues in the twenty-first century. By the end of the module,
students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate independent and critical understanding of the most important aspects of security
  • Critically evaluate theories of security in relation to specific security issues
  • Assess security practices and regimes such as arms control and peacekeeping
  • Apply theoretical knowledge of security to case studies from contemporary global politics.
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including understanding complex concepts and theories, exercising critical judgement, problem- solving skills; making effective oral and written presentations, utilising specialist primary and secondary sources, and deepening the capacity for independent learning
  • Write scholarly and grammatically correct essays that are referenced in accordance with established academic practice.

This module also equips students with a range of important transferrable skills, which are vital
in terms of employability, including working independently as well as part of a team; managing a varied workload; assimilating and synthesising multiple theoretical ideas; constructing coherent,
independent and critical arguments.

Module Schedule:

1 Introduction and Beginnings
2 What is security? And how do we know what it is (not)?
3 Theorizing Security: Competing Approaches, Competing Agendas
4 Responsibility to protect? International Interventionism and ‘Humanitarian War’
5 Security-Development Nexus
6 Environmental Security
7 Digital battlefields? Cyber Security and Virtual Wars
8 Markets & Mercenaries: The Privatisation of (Global) Security
9 Counter/insurgency
10 Intelligence, Torture and Extraordinary Rendition
11 Arms control and (non-)proliferation
12 In-class essay workshop

Teaching Methods:

  • 12 2-hour lectures


  • Essay 1 (2,500 words) - 40% of mark
  • Essay 2 (3,500 words) - 60% of mark

Resources Available:

  • Individual feedback and guidance sessions with module tutors.
  • Detailed 30-page module handbook
  • Dedicated module site on MOLE2.
  • Extensive library materials, including a wide variety of electronic and digitised resources.

Indicative Reading:

Ken Booth (ed.), Critical Security Studies and World Politics (London: Lynne Rienner, 2005).

Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (London: Lynne Rienner, 1991).

Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen, The Evolution of International Security Studies (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Barry Buzan, Charles Jones, and Richard Little The Logic of Anarchy : Neorealism to Structural
(New York, N.Y. ; Chichester : Columbia University Press, 1993)

Alan Collins (ed.), Contemporary Security Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Jenny Edkins & Nick Vaughan-Williams Critical Theorists and International Relations London :
Routledge, 2009

Karin M. Fierke, Critical Approaches to International Security (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).

Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams (eds.), Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

Ronnie Lipschutz (ed.) On Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

Columba Peoples and Nick Vaughan-Williams, Critical Security Studies: An Introduction (London:
Routledge, 2010).

Jutta Weldes, Hugh Gusterson, Mark Laffey and Raymond Duval (eds.), Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities and the Production of Danger (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).

Paul D. Williams (ed.), Security Studies: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2008)