SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Security Governance

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Term 2

In the summer of 2014, citizens of the Gaza Strip gave advice to citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, on how to deal with tear gas and other militarised policing strategies. Global co-operation in the realm of security is not new, of course, although the last two decades have witnessed a range of rapid changes which seem to have overhauled many aspects of how it is understood, managed, governed and challenged. In particular, the end of the Cold War, the growing sense of ‘globalization’ and ‘interdependence’, and the ‘War on Terror’ after 2001 have prompted increased attention to security issues stretching across state boundaries, and involving multiple actors and mechanisms. As a topic of analysis, ‘security governance’ emerges from and responds to this set of changes in the international system. But is all as historically novel as it seems? And what are the political implications of these changes?

This course examines some of the key dimensions of security governance in contemporary world politics. Our work in the course will include reflecting on the concepts and institutions that govern global security, the effects of professional humanitarian and development concerns, neoliberal reform in changing the political landscape of security, and the evolution in practices such as statebuilding, policing, surveillance and rendition.  We will also reflect on historical resonances with colonial counter-insurgency practices across the globe. Overall, we will seek to develop a deep understanding of the political structures, personnel, dynamics, ideologies and imperatives of security provision as a global and evolving phenomenon.

Enrolment is limited to 16 students.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of the course, students should expect:

  • To have a good understanding of what security governance practices involve, particularly in the last two decades
  • To have a sound appreciation of the scholarly literatures and debates on security governance
  • To be able to apply academic concepts and theories of security to empirical materials and concrete situations.
  • To be able to critically analyse academic and policy documents relating to security
  • To develop strong independent research skills, writing skills and presentation skills in the context of course assessments.
Course pre-requisites

This course assumes a good knowledge of International Relations theory. Students wishing to take the course who have not taken International Theory (15PPOH014) should see the course instructor.

Method of assessment

This course is assessed by one 6,000 word essay (90%) and one presentation (10%). The essay title will be devised by the student and approved by the course instructor. Presentation questions and slots will be allocated in the first class.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules