SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Security BA (Online)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

Security BA (online) examines the meanings, mechanisms and agents of security, acknowledging shifts from the traditional notion of national security to forms of Human Security and critiques of the state. The module investigates processes and phenomena that pose direct threats to groups of people and, in doing so, potentially destabilise or aggravate situations. Famine, the oil trade 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 volatile situations. 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 module 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 security policy, including policies relating to human security. In addition to this, there is an 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 module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Understand and elaborate on concepts from critical and human security studies;
  • Analyse and critique academic, UN and pressure group literature on security.
  • Structure an argument presenting differing perspectives on security and how their interact
  • Present in the roles of a diverse set of actors operating in the field of security, the ways in which security is differently experienced between and within groups and the risks and vulnerabilities within security agendas.


Teaching takes place online

Scope and syllabus

The module will cover topics such as:

  1. Theorising critical security
  2. Human security: freedom from fear/ freedom from want
  3. Famine and food security
  4. Citizenship & the state
  5. Migration and non-citizens
  6. Private security: hired guns & gated communities
  7. The ‘development project’ and the security agenda
  8. The HIV/AIDS pandemic
  9. Climate change
  10. Terrorism in the Global South

This list is indicative of the type of content that is proposed for the module and may be subject to change.

Method of assessment

100% coursework.  Each student will be required to submit:

BLE quiz: concepts/definitions (5%),  Article engagement - peer activity 500 words (5%), Structuring presentation (10%) and Group PowerPoint presentation 10 slides maximum (80%).

Suggested reading

  • Beall, J., T. Goodfellow and J. Putzel (2006). "Introductory article: on the discourse of terrorism, security and development." Journal of International Development 18: 51-67.
  • Bond, J. (2014). "Conflict, Development and Security at the Agro-Pastoral-Wildlife Nexus: A Case of Laikipia County, Kenya" Journal Of Development Studies, 50(7): 991-1008.
  • Christie, R (2010), Critical Voices and Human Security: To Endure, to Engage or to Critique, Security Dialogue 41(2), 169-190.
  • Dannreuther, R. (2007). International Security: The Contemporary Agenda. Cambridge, Polity: 34-55.
  • Floyd, R. (2015). "Global climate security governance: a case of institutional and ideational fragmentation." Conflict, Security and Development 15(2): 119-146.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules