This course is available through clearing

If you already have your exam results, meet the entry requirements and hold no offers, then you can apply to this course now.

Contact the admissions team

If you're waiting for your results, then sign up to our clearing alerts to get all the information you need ahead of results day.

Sign up now

BA Politics and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
The Politics of (in)Security

Unit code POLI20332
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What is security? Who is secure? What does it mean to be secure? Who is (are) the agent(s) of security? These are the central questions framing broader debate in international politics

following the end of the Cold War and as such they frame this course. This course specifically considers the shift from traditional to critical security studies and with it the broadening of security to include new issues – such as gender, migration and environment – as well as the deepening of security beyond a focus on states to focus on individuals and the international community.  The course is divided into two sections: the first section looks at how security studies has been

broadened and deepened and the manner in which 'security' has been re-defined as a result; the second section looks at a range of new security issues/threats in contemporary society as well as looking at new approaches to traditional security issues/threats in contemporary society.



The course unit aims to:

• Explore in general debates surrounding ‘security’¿

• Consider specifically the shift from traditional to critical security studies and the opening in the intellectual field of security studies through which a growing body of scholars, disillusioned by the politics of the Cold War, have sought to challenge the assumptions underpinning dominant discursive understandings of what security means

• Consider a range of new security issues and new security threats in contemporary society.

• Introduce students to a disparate body of scholarship (Poststructuralism, Feminisms, Critical Theory, Postcolonialism, Constructivism, Critical Geopolitics) sharing similar critiques of orthodox security studies.¿

• Consider the need to foreground how theory isfundamentally intertwined with the practice of security¿

• Develop students’ oral skills(through general discussion), team-work skills (through small and larger group discussions), written skills (through the assessed essay and article analysis), .

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to demonstrate:¿

• An ability to discuss what is at stake in security both as a theoretical concept and as an ontological category

¿¿• A critical understanding of how security has been rearticulated and challenged in our contemporary context through an engagement with some of the most pressing security issues of the day

¿• an ability to develop and defend an original argument¿• an ability to apply the arguments and approaches studied to real and hypothetical cases.

¿• an ability to present research findings in written form at a 3rd year undergraduate level¿• oral, teamwork, written, and research skills.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught on the basis of ten two-hour lectures and ten one-hour tutorials. The lectures will comprise a mix of traditional lecture material, interactive question and answer sessions, small tasks in break-out groups, and videos. Tutorials will be student-led, involving group work

which will consider theoretical frameworks (part I) as well as be role-play, debate and simulation scenarios linked to new as well as old security issues and threats looked at (part II). Students will be expected to have completed the required reading and to have made preparatory notes (answering set questions related to specific cases) for each tutorial. 

Assessment methods

The course will be assessed in three ways:
1. 1,500 words article analysis (25%)
2. Tutorial participation (10%)
3. 3,000 words essay (65%)



Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

·         Shepherd, Laura J. (ed.) Critical Approaches to Security: An Introduction to Theories and Methods (Routledge, 2013). Available as an ebook in the library.

·         Vaughan-Williams, N. and Peoples, C. Critical Security Studies: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2010 (first edition), 2014 (Second edition). Available as an ebook in the library.

·         Williams, Paul. D (ed.) Security Studies: An Introduction (Oxford University Press) 2008 (First edition), 2012 (second edition) Available as an ebook in the library.

·         Hansen, L and Buzan, B. (2009) The Evolution of International Security Studies (Cambridge University Press).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Tutorials 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Laura Mcleod Unit coordinator

Return to course details