Module code: POLM029

Module Overview

The module offers an introduction to the major theoretical and empirical debates that structure two subdisciplines: Critical Security Studies and Critical Terrorism Studies. In the first half, the module is organised around core questions in Critical Security Studies, such as: what is security; security for whom of for what; security from whom or from what; how should security be achieved; and is security possible?

In the second half, the module is organised around similar core questions in Critical Terrorism Studies.


Module provider


Module Leader

GILLESPIE Ciaran (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 17

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The module is structured in two halves, considering core questions at the heart of CSS and CTS in turn: 

Part 1

  • Introduction: Terrorism and Security as Concepts

  • Traditional / Orthodox Approaches?

  • Terrorism: The Definitional Problem

  • The State and Terrorism

Part II

  • Actors and Referents:The Welsh School and Critical Terrorism Studies

  • Discourses of Terror: Media Coverage in Focus

  • Gendering Security and the Study of Terrorism

  • Counter Terrorism: The War on Terror

  • Counter Terrorism: The UK Prevent Strategy


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation PRESENTATION 20
Coursework COURSEWORK 80

Alternative Assessment

Submit 800 words blog-piece on the presentation topic

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is as follows: 

  • Presentation - To be given in seminar week 7 or 8

  • Coursework in the form of a Seen Exam - Questions delivered one week before course submission during exam period submitted.

Presentations are used as a means of developing student public engagement skills, presenting a challenge in communication of complex, and at many times controversial ideas in a public context (global cultural intelligence). Students have to not only present their own rationale, but must reflect on the perception of that rationale by their colleagues beforehand. This prepares students for a range of potential difficulties in the public communication of political ideas, and is thus a key employability objective.

A piece of coursework in the form of a ‘seen’ exam is used to assess students to test ability to reflect on critical perspectives in a concise and time limited manner, requiring a substantial amount of forethought and planning. It is within student’s capacity to use the seen aspect to their advantage, but this requires preparation- moreover it means that students must engage with course literature throughout the module rather than utilising in limited portions for written assignments. All aspects of this assessment are thus designed to foster resilience and resourcefulness.

Good performance will require substantive pieces of analytical work that demonstrate independent research and professional communication. Through this, students will develop key professional skills in digital research and communication that are a requirement for employability development.

Formative feedback will be provided in a number of occasions throughout the module.

Module aims

  • Provide students with an overview of the development of Critical Security Studies and Critical Terrorism Studies as academic subdisciplines approaches
  • Assist students in further developing their theoretical vocabulary by introducing them to critical approaches to the study of terrorism international security
  • Enable students to analyse, understand and think critically about terrorism and international security issues of historical and contemporary significance
  • Challenge students to consider, discuss and debate sensitive subject matter in a way that test global cultural intelligence, resourcefulness and resilience.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate familiarity with major debates in CSS and CTS, concerning both theoretical and empirical topic matter KCT
002 Demonstrate familiarity and critical engagement with central texts on key issues such as war, globalisation and terrorism KCT
003 Demonstrate an ability to apply specific concepts from CSS literature to contemporary and historical case studies of terrorist and non-state political violence, including an ability to critically understand the construction of terrorist definitions of 'terrorism' in different contexts. KCPT
004 Development of key academic and professional skills in both seminar discussions (global and cultural intelligence) and through assessments that test digital skills, resourcefulness, and resilience. CPT
005 Development of sector knowledge for enhanced employability. PT
006 Reflection on key challenge areas in global security politics, from traditional notions of extremism to prospects of future climate driven refugee crises that centre sustainability and cultural intelligence KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Introduce students to core tenets of critical political theorising

  • Allow them to compare and contrast orthodox and critical perspectives on a limited area of policy. In this case state security and terrorism.

  • Develop not only an awareness of critical perspectives on the subject, but develop skills for critical reflection on the utility of such a departure from orthodox approaches i.e. to ask whether critical perspectives actually give us anything useful?

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Classes are two hour blocks, split between lecture and seminar. The format can shift between the two several times over the course of the teaching block, facilitating an interactive teaching environment

  • Simulations, debates and policy analysis form key components of seminar activity, giving opportunities for practical application of concepts derived from literature.



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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POLM029

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
International Relations (International Intervention) MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
International Relations MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2023/4 academic year.