Module Catalogue 2023/24

POL2110 : Critical Security Studies

POL2110 : Critical Security Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katharine A. M. Wright
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 100 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



This course will consider the concept of security in the study of international relations from a critical perspective. The module aims to equip students with knowledge of different approaches to security and consider how these relate to debates within critical security studies.

The module deploys this conceptual vocabulary to examine a range of security issues of historical and contemporary significance, and considers how they support or challenge competing approaches to security.

Outline Of Syllabus

What is security? What can we know about security? Security is a contested concept and this module explores various critical approaches to the study of security. It will consider questions such as: What does it mean to center the individual as the referent object of security? Is security desirable? Is security possible? How are race and empire implicated in security? Is security a gendered concept? Are state and individual security compatible? Students will consider different conceptualisations of security drawn from critical approaches and will examine how they could be used to account for (in)security. Students will also be exposed to a range of empirical examples of global security challenges which emerge from a ‘broadened’ and ‘deepened’ understanding of security which critical approaches provide.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Intended knowledge outcomes:
1.       An understanding of how the study of security relates to International Relations.
2.       An understanding of the key conceptual approaches to the study of security
3.       An understanding of historically significant and new security challenges of the contemporary period

Intended Skill Outcomes

Intended skill outcomes:
1. To develop written communication through assessment
2. To develop critical and analytical ability
3. To enable students to analyse, understand and think critically about international security

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Recorded online lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Lecture present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture92:0018:00Lecture present in person
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:00Guided reading; seminar preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminar present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Online drop-in session
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1134:00134:00Further reading, independent research, assessment preparation and completion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key theoretical approaches within the sub-discipline of Security Studies and provide an opportunity to examine how these approaches relate to international security issues of contemporary and historical significance. The seminars allow students to participate in clarifying and exploring the approaches and issues underpinning the module through discussion based on assigned readings. These support students in developing critical, analytical and oral communication skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M201000 word reflective blog
Essay2M802500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module consists of two components, a reflective blog and a timed essay. The reflective blog will enable students to consider a security issue of their choice and reflect critically on their own positionality to it drawing on a critical security studies framework. This will also help reinforce understanding of concepts engaged with in the learning material and discussed in seminars. The reflective blog is designed to feed forward into preparation for the timed essay through equipping students with the skills to write analytically and critically. The timed essay will allow students to critically engage with different concepts of security and apply it in the context of issues of contemporary and historical significance to security. Both the reflective blog and timed essay assess critical thinking, written communication and argumentation.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.