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Unit information: International Security in 2021/22

Unit name International Security
Unit code POLIM3012
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Herring
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The concept of security is used very frequently in relation to international issues. This unit introduces you to the subject of international security, including theoretical, normative and policy issues. It covers traditional and non-traditional approaches. The unit begins by surveying different approaches to the study of security. It explores the idea of (de)securitization, that is, how issues are put onto our taken off the security agenda. We then examine in turn gender; the environment; nuclear weapons; conventional arms transfers; terrorism; ethnic conflict; the news media and public opinion; the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the aftermath; and the relationships between security and development. Throughout you will be encouraged to explore different perspectives in order to assist you in developing your own understanding of these issues and in deciding which, if any, you find most persuasive.

This unit aims:

  • To assist you in becoming familiar with contemporary approaches to and issues in international security.
  • To develop your ability to think independently about texts on international security.
  • To assist you in developing your own views on international security issues and the ways they are studied.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit the student should have:

  • Thorough knowledge of approaches to international security
  • The ability to understand a range of relevant concepts and related theories – in particular the liberal democratic peace (& its war ethos), the nuclear and terrorist threats, the arms trade and its consequences, genocide and ethnic cleansing, conflict and development, humanitarian intervention and trans-national violence
  • Knowledge of the contemporary historical dimensions of international security
  • The ability to integrate theoretical and empirical material
  • The ability to analyse news politically
  • The ability to make articulate, concise, persuasive and well-paced presentations in small groups
  • The ability to present articulately, concisely and persuasively and to support a presentation with effective written material
  • The ability to engage in constructive discussion

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: an oral presentation supported by a handout Summative assessment: a 4,000 word essay.

A full statement of the relationship between the programme outcomes and types/methods of assessment is contained in accompanying Programme Specifications and section B7 of the Major Change to Current Programme forms for the programmes of which this unit is a part. The assessment for each unit is designed to fit within and contribute to that approach in terms of intellectual development across each of the two teaching blocks, and in relation to knowledge and understanding, intellectual skills and attributes, and transferable skills.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLIM3012).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.