BASS Politics and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Security, Radical Uncertainty and Global Pandemics

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY30352
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course critically investigates contemporary debates on security in the urban, on surveillance and on global threats, including the pressing risk of global pandemics. The course analyses and generates critical perspectives on dominant and emergent practices around security and preparedness.

Students think broadly and analytically about risk, vulnerability and radical uncertainty. The course strongly encourages an appreciation of the social impacts and inequalities in various global and urban contexts, which emerge from the pursuit of resilience and preparedness.


Through engagement with this course, students think historically, globally and contextually about contemporary social issues and develop transferable skills, including a critical and analytical approach to contemporary political debates and an ability to evaluate competing interpretations on pressing topics and policy areas.


  • The course unit aims to:
  • Develop a critical understanding of contemporary debates on security in the urban, on surveillance and on global threats, including the pressing risk of global pandemics;
  • Engage critically with the discourses of vulnerability, risk and irreducible uncertainty in emergency and crisis situations (from global outbreaks to terrorist attacks);
  • ·Theorise current practices of security (the shifts towards preparedness, resilience, and acting pre-emptively);
  •  Understand the intensification of securitisation, within so-called states of exceptions, and the tools and technologies that enable the shift, including simulations and modelling;
  •  Analyse the pervasiveness and hybridity of securitisation, particularly in the urban, the intersections between built environment, new emergent practices, and intersecting virtual security solutions. This is done also via case studies on a range of emergencies (from urban riots to global outbreaks);
  • ·Introduce students to a range of contemporary empirical research, including on preparedness against global pandemics;
  • Highlight the social and ethical impacts of security practices and discourses.

Learning outcomes

Student should be able to Knowledge and Understanding: · better understand topical debates on security and the process of securitisation globally · think broadly and analytically about the notions of risk, vulnerability and radical uncertainty · better appreciate social impacts and inequalities in the global and urban context, emerging from the pursuit of resilience and preparedness · develop critical perspectives on the role of dominant discourses and practices around security and preparedness Intellectual skills: · think historically, globally and contextually about contemporary social issues · develop critical reading and analytical skills in relation to contemporary empirical research · synthesise, summarise and critically evaluate issues from a range of sources to produce assessed coursework Practical skills: · Use library and electronic sources and resources · Approach modelling and simulation tools more critically Transferable skills and personal qualities:

· Work with others to develop ideas

· Develop a critical approach to contemporary political debates

· Evaluate competing interpretations on a contentious topic

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lectures Weekly workshops

The course will utilise Blackboard to deliver the modules core readings, lecture slides, any supplementary materials, and communication.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

1 non-assessed assignment (essay plan)

1 assessed coursework essay, 3,000 words; 50% of mark 1 traditional format exam (2 hr/ 2 answers) 50% of mark.

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Anderson, B. (2010). Preemption, precaution, preparedness: anticipatory action and future geographies. Progress in Human Geography, 34(6), 777-798.

Pieri, E. (2021). Pandemics: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Pieri, E. (2014). Emergent policing practices: operation Shop a Looter and urban space securitisation in the aftermath of the Manchester 2011 riots. Surveillance & Society, 12(1), 38-54.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elisa Pieri Unit coordinator

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