MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Gender, Race & Security

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI62221
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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module explores the complex relationship between ideas of security and their gendered and racialized logics. Drawing on contemporary feminist, critical race and postcolonial approaches to studying the world, this module serves to give students a deeper understanding of how security is represented, enacted, legitimated and experienced. Through a critical engagement with the concepts of security, race and gender, the module encourages students to reflect on and question what is ‘known’ about security and to challenge common sense presentations of the practices. By positioning both gender and race as topics of study as well as analytical lenses, the module will show that they are foundational and constitutive of our ideas about security and our responses to insecurity.


  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and capacity to critically engage with a range of feminist and postcolonial approaches to the study of security.
  2. Consider and show rigorous reflection on the ethical and methodological challenges of researching security from feminist, critical race and postcolonial perspectives.
  3. Critically interrogate the gendered and racialized logics through which contemporary security is narrated, legitimized and resisted. 
  4. Show understanding of and sensitivity to the ‘everyday’ nature of security practices and their uneven effects on gendered and racialized bodies.
  5. Show appropriate understanding of and ability to contribute to debates on security, and its gender and race dynamics, through the development of analytical and presentation skills and independent learning and research skills.


It is possible, though not essential, to include a brief week-by-week breakdown of class topics in this section. It should be stated clearly when these are representative examples only (for example, if some topics are not covered every year).

Please note the outline below is indicative only:

Section 1: Concepts

1. What is security? And who is it for?

2. Considering race and gender


Section 2: Constructing security threats

3. ‘The heart of darkness’: space and race in construction of barbarians, victims and saviours

4. ‘Mothers, monsters, whores’ – women as security object/threats

5. Unseeable threats – rethinking the global health security

6. Feeling security – the ‘pop’ culture turn in security studies


Section 3: Security actors

7. Liberal warriors and humanitarian violence

8. Mercenaries, militaries and rebels – cultural imaginaries of soldiers

9. Can tech save us?

10. Resisting ‘security’ as grassroots security act

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be delivered through 10 thematic teaching sessions, which will take the form of 45 minute lecture and a 1-hour seminar-style discussion of key texts, exercises to think through the implications of the topics under discussion. The classes will be supported by Blackboard with all lecture and reading materials shared via the platform.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

1. Debates about gender and race as socially constructed categories which underpin ideas of security.

2. Issues shaping debates about security and our responses to insecurity.

3. The role of narrative and diverse forms of representation in shaping discourse about security.

4. The historical and spatial dimensions of discourses of insecurity and how these map onto particular gendered and racialized bodies.

Intellectual skills

1. Identify and evaluate different conceptual and theoretical perspectives.

2. Critically analyse debates about the meanings of and constructions of security, race and gender.

3. Investigate and analyse the role that race and gender have played in contemporary security issues and responses.

4. Develop reflective practice on the ethical implications of the study and practice of security.

5. Show the ability to connect the ‘everyday’ experiences of security and insecurity to broader global discourses through the application of appropriate theoretical lenses

Practical skills

1. Research skills, including planning, prioritisation of tasks, identification and location of primary and secondary sources, evaluation of findings.

2. Essay-writing skills related to the analysis of a specific question, construction of arguments, assessment and deployment of evidence, writing style.

3. Applied analytical skills, built through an understanding of both academic and operational questions gender, race and security.

4. Participation in seminar discussion and presentations in order to aid the research, analysis and presentation skills.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

1. Students will have the opportunity to develop interpretation and argumentation skills, both written and oral form, through assessed coursework and seminar presentations.

2. Students will develop research and project management skills throughout the course.

3. The course will foster an ability to move between different disciplinary approaches, promoting flexibility and adaptable working methods.

Employability skills

In addition, students will develop a set of skills that are also relevant more broadly. At the end of the module, students will significantly advance their skills in: · Working independently to deadlines · Working with as part of a team with others · Analysing and evaluating evidence · Constructing coherent, substantiated arguments · Producing written work in a variety of formats and for different audiences · Communicating verbally and in written form

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Source analysis Summative 30%
Essay Summative 70%
Essay plan Formative N/A

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on assignments


Oral feedback in class


Oral feedback one-to-one during office hours


Recommended reading

Bhatia, Michael V. ‘Fighting Words: Naming Terrorists, Bandits, Rebels and Other Violent Actors’, Third World Quarterly 26:1 (2005): 5-22.

Mutua, M. 2001. ‘Savages, Victims, and Saviours: The Metaphor of Human Rights’, Harvard International Law Journal 42(1): 201-245. 

Mbembe, A. and L. Meintjes. 2003. Necropolitics. Public Culture. 15(1): 11-40

Stanski, K. 2009. ‘“So These Folks are Aggressive”: An Orientalist Reading of “Afghan Warlords”’, Security Dialogue 40(1): 73-94.

Enloe, Cynthia (2014), Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics, 2ndedition, London: University of California Press

hooks, bell (2000), Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre, London: PLuto

Kronswell, Annica and Erica Svedberg (eds.) (2013), Making Gender, Making War: Violence, Military and Peacekeeping Practices, Abingdon: Routledge

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade (2003), Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, London: Duke University Press.

Parpart, Jane L., and Marysia Zalewski (eds.) (2008), Rethinking the Man Question: Sex, Gender and Violence in International Relations, London: Zed Books

Shepherd, Laura J. (2013), Gender, Violence and Popular Culture: Telling Stories, Abingdon: Routledge

Sylvester, Christine (2013), War as Experience: Contributions from International Relations and Feminist Analysis, Abingdon and New York: Routledge

Khalili, L. 2011. ‘Gendered Practices of Counterinsurgency’, Review of International Studies 37(4): 1471-1491.

Welland, J. 2015. ‘Liberal Warriors and the Violent Colonial Logics of “Partnering and Advising”, International Feminist Journal of Politics 17(2): 289-307.

Medie, P. A. 2013. Fighting Gender-based Violence: The Women’s Movement and the Enforcement of Rape Law in Liberia. African Affairs. 112 (448): 377-397

Razack, Sherene. Dark Threats and White Knights¿: the Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Roisin Read Unit coordinator

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