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POL2110 : Critical Security Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katharine A. M. Wright
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Megan Armstrong
  • 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


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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Lecture present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture92:0018:00Lecture present in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00Simulation (small groups)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical22:004:00Student presentations
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Seminar present in person
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00Further 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, particularly those which take a critical approach (broadly defined), 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.

The addition of the simulation allows students to apply what they have learned in a practical way, in accordance with Problem Based Learning. The addition of the drop-in sessions is to facilitate students in preparing the final assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000 word essay
Oral Presentation2A5010 minute group presentation with submitted written plan and bibliography.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module consists of two components, a written essay and a 'podcast style' oral group presentaton. The 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. The length of the essay encourages students to synthesise their learning in order to form and support an argument concisely.

The 'podcast style' presentation requires students to research and present information on the topic of their choice. Students will be allocated to groups and instructed to select a topic based on what they have engaged with in the module, and to design and give a 10 minute group presentation. They will also be required to submit a written plan for the presentation and a bibliography of the research undertaken. The presentation encourages oral presentation skills in a format graduates may encounter in employment.

Reading Lists