MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Security Infrastructures in an Uncertain World

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60412
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The module will guide students through the effects that digital technologies are having on the way that authorities govern and secure against various emergency events. Through a mixture of interactive lectures and seminars concentrating on current academic debates and detailed empirical case studies, the content delivered on the module focuses on three overarching themes. The module will engage with the forms of action or modes of intervention through which authorities govern emergencies when digital technologies inform their operation. Amongst other issues, students will thus investigate the way that Big Data are used to inform response to emergencies along with examining how risk analysis facilitates forms of anticipatory governance where authorities take steps prevent and prepare for emergencies before they occur. The module will also involve in-depth exploration of the technologies themselves (and the practices that have developed around them) that facilitate these modes of intervention. Here the module will offer students detailed insight, for example, on the myriad organisational processes such as data integration and monitoring that ensure technologies can be deployed for the purposes of emergency governance whilst also probing the different forms of knowledge that are now drawn upon to secure the world. Lastly, the module will develop the analytical and critical capabilities of students by engaging with various accounts of the ethical, cultural and political ramifications that rise to prominence where digital technologies and emergency governance meet. This includes probing the effects of mass surveillance, evaluating authorities’ ability to follow prescribed protocols in emergencies and examining the influence of private companies in security practices.



The module aims to

  • Outline scholarly knowledge and debates that have evaluated the multiple connections between security, emergency governance and digital technologies.
  • Present a critically informed practical skill-set and understanding of the application  of a range of digital technologies for the purposes of security and emergency governance
  • Engage in-depth with a variety of key events from the history of security and emergency governance to understand the role of technologies within them.
  • Establish key ethical, political and cultural issues that arise where security and emergency governance are considered through its facilitation via digital technologies


Knowledge and understanding

At the end of the module, students will be able to display in-depth subject-specific knowledge and understanding of:

  • The forms of knowledge and technologies used to analyse, monitor and to govern emergencies
  • The practices through which such knowledges and technologies are applied, including processes such as surveillance, warning and decision making
  • The range of organisations both public and private involved in the delivery of security and emergency governance through digital  technologies
  • Key case studies that exemplify components of the relationship between security and digital technologies
  • The transdisciplinary debates that have developed to critically understand the political, social, ethical and cultural ramifications of the connections between security and digital technologies

Intellectual skills

At the end of the module, students will be able to display a number key broader intellectual skills including but not limited to:

  • Deploying conceptual frameworks to critically analyse evidence from a number of different disciplinary perspectives
  • Presenting evidence through coherent narration of case studies
  • Using a range of research techniques to explore and identify evidence and knowledge relevant for constructing arguments


Practical skills

Students completing the module will be able to display a number of key practical skills, including but not limited to:

  • Developing coherent and critical arguments
  • Critically assessing a range of evidence
  • Translating knowledge from academia into policy
  • Conducting independent research and writing
  • Presenting in public and engaging in public debate and discussion


Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students completing the module will be able to evidence a number of transferable and practical skills. These skills include:

  • Organising individual workloads and meeting strict deadlines
  • Working with others
  • Communicating orally and in writing
  • Using capacity for creativity and innovation through applying acquired knowledge
  • Confidence with a range of assessment methods


Employability skills

Those wishing to pursue careers specifically within disaster management agencies, charities, private security contractors and government will acquire a vast, detailed and critical knowledge base concerning a range of the latest developments in the application of technology for security purposes, from transdisciplinary academic debates and the forms of intervention technologies make possible, to the computational processes that underpin security technologies and the ethical, political and cultural complications that have emerged in the domain.

Assessment methods

2 x online MCQ tests Formative  
Student presentations Formative  
Emergency Inquest/Simulation Summative 50%
Self-designed essay Summative

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on written assignments


Verbal feedback on presentations


Quantitative automatic grading on MCQs



Recommended reading

Amoore  L and de Goede M (2008), Risk and The War on Terror, Routledge, London

Amoore L (2013) The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability, Duke University Press, Durham

Anderson B (2010a) Preemption, Precaution, Preparedness: Anticipatory Action and Future Geographies, Progress in Human Geography, Volume 34,  pp777-798

Aradau C and Van Munster R (2011) The Politics of Catastrophe, Palgrave-Macmillan, London

Ingram A and Dodds K (2009) Spaces of Security and Insecurity: Geographies of The War on Terror, Ashgate, London

Foucault M (2007) Security, Territory, Population, Palgrave-Macmillan, London

Peoples C and Vaughn-Williams N (2015) Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, Routledge, New York


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nathaniel O'Grady Unit coordinator

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