International Security

Course Description: 

This course is open to students at both the PhD and MA levels. The main purpose of the course is to provide an overview of the field of Security Studies, but with particular attention being given to the so-called ‘critical turn’ in the discipline.

    In its broadest sense, ‘Critical Security Studies’ can be seen as a collection of approaches united by virtue of their various dissatisfactions with ‘Traditional’ Security Studies. In short, Critical Security Studies seeks to question, though not always entirely do away with previously dominant state- and military-centric disciplinary foundations. And this course deals explicitly with a number of such approaches; from the more ‘conventional’ Constructivists, through the ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘Aberystwyth’ Schools, to Gender and other more ‘radical’ Constructivist positions. In doing so, the goal is not only to evaluate the main assumptions underpinning each of the approaches, but also to give thought to the very meanings of ‘traditional’ and ‘critical’. While the course is thus predominantly theoretical in its orientation, great emphasis is also given to empirical application; that is to say, just what is the utility of security theories?

Learning Outcomes: 

For this course, there are no lectures; instead, students will participate in seminars where they are expected to form (possibly re-form) and exchange opinion through a critical examination of the given readings. Seminar discussion will be structured around a short presentation of the topic, where students will (briefly) summarise and critique the readings. For each seminar there will be one such key text.


Each student will be assessed through a combination of seminar contribution and written work. 

    For both PhD and MA students, in terms of seminar contribution a number of oral presentations are required (the exact number being dependent on the overall class size). In addition, PhD students are also required to write four ‘critiques’, each approximately 1,500-2,000 words in length (see guidelines below). For MA students, the number of required critiques is three.