SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

The Politics of Global Security

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
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 module examines some of the key dimensions of security governance in contemporary world politics. Our work in the module 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.


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the module, 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.
Module pre-requisites

There are no formal prequisites for this module. It assumes some familiarity with key concepts in Politics and International Relations. Students without this background should contact the course convenor for advice on background reading.


  • Two hour seminar per week

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by two assignments; 1 x critical reading summary (10%) and 1 x 4000 word essay (90%). The essay title will be devised by the student in line with the course material and approved by the module convenor.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules