The Politics of Global Security

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

Discourses and practices of ‘national security’ are amongst the most powerful political instruments available to governments and other actors in today’s world. In the modern age, security is seen as one of the primary prerogatives of government. The key questions for students of politics at any time are: Who or what is being secured by practices of security? Who or what is identified as the threat? How do the discourses and practices of security interact with the economic and cultural dimensions of social order? What levels of physical and structural violence underpin security practices? How are the objects of security governance changing in the 21st century? And are more just and sustainable forms of security governance possible?

This course will investigate the evolving nature of security governance and risks in the 21st century, with particular attention to emerging threats in the realms of nuclear weapons, non-state terrorism, climate change, energy, and food security, as well as emerging forms of security governance in the domains of surveillance and policing. We will engage with multiple theoretical approaches to the study of global security and then apply them to the study of these diverse domains. The course will also demonstrate how these areas are all inter-connected, which requires new forms of analysis and governance that move beyond isolationist approaches. It will conclude by considering broad systemic trends in global security governance and anticipate how it may continue to evolve in the future (whether in more progressive or dystopian directions).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of what security governance practices involve, particularly in the last two decades
  • Demonstrate a sound appreciation of the scholarly literatures and debates on security governance
  • Apply academic concepts and theories of security to different empirical domains and concrete situations.
  • Critically analyse academic and policy documents relating to security
  • Demonstrate strong independent research skills, writing skills and presentation skills in the context of course assessments.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: Critical reading summary 10%
  • Assignment 2: Essay 90%

Suggested reading

  • Barry Buzan & Lene Hansen (2009) The Evolution of International Security Studies. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
  • Laura Sjoberg (ed) Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives. Routledge: Abingdon.
  • Benjamin Hayes & Nick Buxton (2015) The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations are Shaping a Climate-Changed World. Pluto Press: London:
  • Simon Dalby (2009) Security and Environmental Change. Polity Press: London
  • Jan Bachman, Colleen Beel, & Caroline Homqvist (eds) War, Police, and Assemblages of Intervention. Routledge: Abingdon


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules