Module code: POL2036

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the subdiscipline of Security Studies.  First, students are introduced to the history and development of Security Studies as a subdiscipline.  Second, the module turns to briefly consider the major schools of though and theoretical approaches to the study of international security.  Third, a number of issues of historical and contemporary significance will be discussed, including both traditional subject matter and new security agendas.  Together, this provides an introduction to Security Studies and a snapshot of key current debates and issues.

Module provider


Module Leader

KITCHEN Nicholas (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: L435

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module builds on knowledge acquired in modules such as POL1013 Introduction to International Relations; complements similar sub-disciplinary-focussed modules at Level 2 such as POL2031 Analysing Foreign Policy; and prepares students for both thematically-focussed modules at Level 3 such as POL3060 American Foreign Policy and modules considering more narrowly defined subdisciplines such as POL3066 Critical Terrorism Studies.

The module begins by considering the historical development of Security Studies as an academic subdiscipline.  Second, the module outlines the major schools, approaches and traditions within Security Studies, including traditional approaches and the three major schools of Critical Security Studies.  Third, taking an awareness of the academic landscape and deploying this theoretical vocabulary, the module then turns to consider a range of broadly stand-alone issues in international security that bear historical and contemporary significance.  Both traditional topics and new security issues are introduced and discussed.  Students are encouraged to think critically about these topics, their own views and the role that different theoretical approaches have in shaping our understandings.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework National Security Council Crisis Response Briefing Paper to UK Prime Minister (1000 words) 30
Coursework Policy Brief on a Contemporary Security Issue (2500 words) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The module assessments aim to develop and test a student’s ability to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts and issue in international security.

  • Critically engage with the subject matter.

  • Present and develop a clear argument, within a limited word count.

  • Analyse the issue (rather than merely describe it).

  • Critically evaluate an approach or competing approaches.

Thus, the assessment for this module consists of:

1. National Security Council Crisis Response Briefing Paper to UK Prime Minister (1000 words), following the group crisis management exercise in week 7. The brief should include:

  • An assessment of the crisis and the implications for the national interest

  • (approx. 300 words)

  • Options for responding and what actions the government should take, if any, and details of any contingency planning that should be set in hand

  • (approx. 500 words)

  • What the government’s public line should be, in the form of a draft official statement (approx. 200 words)

2. Policy Brief on a Contemporary Security Issue (2500 words) to a specified political, institutional, or non-governmental actor on a relevant security-related issue. 

Example actors might include:

  • the Head of State

  • a humanitarian NGO chief-executive

  • a military leader

  • the head of an international organisation

  • the chief executive of a private company

  • a civil society leader

  • the leader of a political opposition party

The Policy Brief must comprise of three sections, in the following order:

  • An Executive Summary that sets out the problem and makes a policy recommendation
    (no more than 500 words)

  • An assessment of three Policy Options(one of which should be the recommended option)
    (approx. 1200-1500 words)

  • A Background section, setting out the dynamics of the security issue being addressed, and providing an assessment of the actor’s relevant security interests
    (approx. 500-800 words)


Module aims

  • Build on the more general knowledge acquired on POL1013 Introduction to International Relations, through a deeper exploration on one key subdiscipline
  • Prepare students for more narrowly defined and detailed examinations of themes in modules such as POL3065 American Foreign Policy and POL3066 Critical Terrorism Studies
  • Provide students with an overview of the development of Security Studies as an academic subdiscipline, including later critical approaches
  • Assist students in further developing their theoretical vocabulary by introducing them to the major approaches to the study of international security
  • Enable students to analyse, understand and think critically about international security issues of historical and contemporary significance

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate familiarity with major debates in Security Studies, concerning both theoretical and substantive topic matter; K
002 Engage critically with central texts on key issues such as war, globalisation and terrorism; K
003 Have the fundamental knowledge necessary to progress further into the subdiscipline of Security Studies, or parallel and related subdisciplines such as Terrorism Studies, having further developed knowledge subject knowledge of International Relations generally and international security specifically. K
004 Apply theoretical frameworks (e.g. securitisation) to empirical analysis. KCT
005 Develop research, writing and debating skills. PT
006 Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Introduce students to new topics, and develop student ability for student-led discussion of the topic, with a focus on analytical and critical skills.

The learning and teaching methods include:

A mixture of lectures and seminars, with significant student-led learning.  Students will be expected to contribute actively during seminars, having prepared to contribute to debates based on extensive reading.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for SECURITY STUDIES :

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Politics BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics with French BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.