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Department of Development Studies

Security

Course Code:
15PDSH020
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1

The course on Security examines the meanings and agents of security, acknowledging shifts from the traditional notion of national security, to forms of security located from the individual to the global. Security is conceptualised in this course as a pattern of relations designed to manage risk through collaboration, competition and compromise; its opposites are vulnerability, insecurity and terror. The course investigates processes and phenomena that pose direct threats to groups of people and, in doing so, potentially destabilise or aggravate situations. Famine, financial volatility and AIDS undermine people physically, politically and psychologically, and on occasions result in further forms of insecurity as people resist, retaliate or take advantage of the situation. The course also incorporates analysis of contingent – and differentiating – social factors such as age, gender, class and identity and the way that these shape and are shaped by experiences of security.

The course is divided into two parts: (i) sub-national security and (ii) international and global security. There is overlap and interplay between the elements examined in each section, and the structure is designed to provide a framework for teaching and analysis rather than to categorise these aspects of security definitively. The course draws on literature from a range of sources. The academic literature derives predominantly from Development Studies, Political Science and International Relations. This provides varied analysis of the nature and function of global security and human security. In addition to this, there is a rapidly expanding academic literature linking specific threats to processes of vulnerability, insecurity, terror and globalisation. This is accompanied by literature by pressure groups working on the issues concerned: on AIDS, famine, corporate responsibility, the environment and human rights. The UN, itself heavily involved in forging the meanings of security, has produced documents relating to health, climate change and other elements covered in the course.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Elaborate on and critique meanings of the term "security", how these are constructed, interpreted and manipulated;
  • Identify and examine non-military processes and phenomena affecting security;
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how various forms of security interact;
  • Explain the roles of a diverse set of actors operating in the field of security;
  • Analyse ways in which security is differently experienced between and within groups;
  • Assess risks and vulnerabilities within Global Security;
  • Deploy academic, UN and pressure group literature on security in constructing arguments.

Workload

Teaching takes place through a weekly 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

60% examination, 40% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 4000 words, worth 40%. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.