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Unit information: Critical Security Studies in 2021/22

Unit name Critical Security Studies
Unit code POLI31384
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Peoples
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

This unit will introduce students to the 'critical turn' in the study of global security by tracing the move away from a state-centred militaristic approach to security. In contrast a variety of emerging schools of thought will be examined. These schools detail a more expansive conception of security that involves issues spanning economic, social, political and environmental spheres. The unit is divided into two main parts. The first part, 'Theories', will survey the newly extended and contested theoretical terrain of Critical Security Studies including 'securitization theory', post-Marxist approaches, feminism and postcolonial approaches. The second part, 'Emerging Practices', will allow students to assess the usefulness of these various theoretical approaches in assessing a diverse range of issues in contemporary security practices. Cases examined will include: Homeland Security and the War on Terror; Environmental Degradation and Resource Scarcity; Technology and Warfare in the Information Age; Human Security and Development; and Migration and Border Security.


  • To introduce students to a variety of critical approaches to contemporary security
  • To familiarise students with key ideas, concepts, and issues in critical security studies
  • To explore the benefits and drawbacks of employing an expanded conception of security that encompasses economic, social, political and environmental spheres as well as traditional military issues
  • To stimulate critical reflection on contemporary security practices .

Intended Learning Outcomes

As can be evaluated via the unit assessment, by the end of this unit students will be able to:

a) Identify and assess key ideas, concepts and theories in critical security studies

b) Review and discuss critical frameworks for thinking about security

c) Critically analyse key contemporary issues in international security and contemporary security practices

d) Illustrate and evaluate concepts and theories covered by the unit in relation to empirical issues

e) Develop independent arguments by synthesising a wide range of relevant information and evidence in relation to the study of security

f) Assess the merits and limitations of specific critical approaches the study of security

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

3000 Word Esssay (100%) (Summative Assessment)* The essay questions for the unit will be specifically designed around cross-cutting thematic issues covered by the unit as a whole – see intended learning outcomes a) and b) above. The essay questions will combine conceptual, theoretical and empirical components in order to allow for the assessment of intended learning outcomes a), b), c), d) and e) above. The essay questions will be specifically designed to allow for assessment of students ability to apply, evaluate and critically assess conceptual and theoretical frameworks within critical security studies – intended learning outcomes d) and f) above – and to synthesize information and evidence from across the unit as a whole in order provide this critical engagement – allowing for assessment of intended learning outcome e).


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. POLI31384).

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.