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Department of Politics and International Studies

Security governance

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Term 2

Understandings of security and how it is to be produced have undergone rapid change in the past two decades. Traditionally, analysis of international peace and security focused on interstate warfare and diplomacy. The growing impact of ‘globalization’ and ‘interdependence’, however, have prompted increased attention to security issues as 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.

This course examines some of the key dimensions of security governance in contemporary world politics, proceeding in three sections. We begin by examining foundational concepts such as ‘security’, ‘globalization’ and ‘governance’, before looking at the politics of the UN Security Council and recent attempts to re-define security. In the second section, we look at three perceived security threats which are connected to global networks. In the third section, we explore emerging features of the security landscape which seek to meet evolving challenges. To bring our understanding together, we will devote the last week to analyzing the War on Terror as an example of contemporary security governance practices. Our work in the course will include reflecting on the meaning of ‘neoliberal’ reform in changing the political landscape of security, and addressing practices such as statebuilding, policing, surveillance and rendition. By the end of the course, students should expect to have a broad understanding of how security governance is understood and deployed, the scholarly literatures and debates on security and governance, and the ability to apply those concepts and theories to empirical materials and concrete situations.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • An understanding of academic literatures and debates on security and governance
  • The ability to present theories, models and approaches that help students to explain and understand security governance
  • The ability to discuss security governance as it relates to various subfields of Political Science, including the study of International Security, Global Civil Society, Transnational Relations, Civil Wars, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Terrorism and Insurgency, Political Institutions and Political Participation, and Identity Politics
  • The ability to undertake an independent research project focusing on an aspect of security governance
  • The ability to critically engage with the academic and policy literature on security governance
  • The ability to present and critique competing scholarly arguments
  • The ability to make formal presentations

Method of assessment

Assessment is 90% coursework (in the form of one 6000 word essay) and 10% practical examination