BA Politics and German

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Security Studies

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI20332
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What is security? Who is secure? How are identities secured and made insecure? Is security desirable? What does security do? There are no easy responses to these questions, given that ‘security’ is situated in multiple and divergent global relations.  These are the central questions at the heart of making sense of ‘security’ and the study of security within international politics. Throughout the course we engage with a range of contemporary security concerns – including LGBTQI+ people, Health , peace negotiations, peacekeeping, the environment, migration, terrorism and the governance structure for international security – to consider how these challenges articulate, frame and utilise understandings of security.  




The course unit aims to:

• Explore debates surrounding ‘security’

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

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

• Consider the need to foreground how security theory is fundamentally intertwined with the practice of security.

• Develop oral skills (through general discussion), team-work skills (through small and larger group discussions), written skills (through the assessments).

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.

• Confidence in critical reading and reflection skills; developing a coherent argument situated within appropriate theories and case studies in a written form at the level expected of a 2nd year undergraduate student.


Assessment methods

Assessment methods  

  1. Photograph & Reflection Portfolio: One Photograph equal to 600 words and, 1400 word reflection (45%)

  2. Essay 2500 words (55%) 




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).


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Laura Mcleod Unit coordinator

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