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Security Studies – Undergraduate Course Syllabus

Course Description

The aim of the course is to provide students with a broad theoretical basis in the field and to prepare them for further research and employment in Security Studies. There are many dramatic issues in international and national security, such as wars, conflicts, terrorism, drone attacks, interventions and cyber threats. Security studies help students understand and explain these events by giving them the right tools to think about them.

Students will explore, compare, and debate the merits of theories and key security concepts through in-depth discussion to develop a solid understanding of the various theoretical and practical perspectives. In each lecture, we will place these theories and concepts in their historical context, show how they contribute to a better understanding of international and national security, and assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Applying the Aristotelian method of teaching, I will focus on developing both the intellectual and moral virtues of students. Intellectual virtues are character traits such as the ability to judge the truth and comprehend the nature of things, whereas moral virtues are habits of living that involve the whole person and include justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude, which are characterised by desire and emotion.

In addition, the course is designed with the following implications in mind: to understand the diverse backgrounds of undergraduate students, to provide full support to non-native speakers in relation to academic English, and to engage the students in practical discussions and seminars. An inclusive curriculum implements policies and resources to ensure that all students are supported in their learning.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Analyse and apply diverse theoretical approaches to security studies.
  • Examine critically the reasons for cooperation and conflict in international relations.
  • Engage in contemporary theoretical discussions in both, international and national security.
  • Construct and defend theoretically sophisticated arguments regarding security studies.
  • Identify leading authors and the theories with which they are associated.
  • Learn to think and write critically about crucial debates in security studies.
  • Effective oral and written communication in professional applications of security scholarship.
  • Develop innovative ways of thinking about the practical implications of security relations (cyberthreats, drone strikes, terrorism, wars, national security strategy, and so on). 

Reading Materials

Foundation texts

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Additionally, essential and recommended readings based on scholarly articles are provided for each lecture to introduce students to academic analytical and critical thinking.

The quality of teaching, course content, and literature included reflects the advanced practice of worldwide recognised departments of politics and international relations.

Course Content

Lecture 1: What is security?

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Introduction: What is Security Studies? by Alan Collins
  • Popular Culture and Security by Galia Press-Barnathan

Essential Required Reading

Recommended Reading

  • Bilgic, A. (2014) ‘Exploring “What’s Good about Security”: Politics of Security during the Dissolution of Yugoslavia’, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 16(2), pp. 260–278. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/19448953.2014.910390.
  • Shepherd, L.J. and Weldes, J. (2008) ‘Security: The State (of) Being Free From Danger?’, in H.G. Brauch et al. (eds) Globalization and Environmental Challenges. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace), pp. 529–536. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75977-5_39.
  • Walt, S.M. (1991) ‘The Renaissance of Security Studies’, International Studies Quarterly, 35(2), p. 211. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/2600471.

Lecture 2: Realisms and Liberalisms

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Realism by Charles L. Glaser
  • Liberalism and Liberal Internationalism by Patrick Morgan, with Alan Collins

Essential Required Reading

  • Jervis, R. (2002) ‘Theories of War in an Era of Leading-Power Peace Presidential Address, American Political Science Association, 2001’, American Political Science Review, 96(1), pp. 1–14. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055402004197.
  • Milner, H. (1991) ‘The assumption of anarchy in international relations theory: a critique’, Review of International Studies, 17(1), pp. 67–85. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S026021050011232X.
  • Walt, S.M. (1998) ‘International Relations: One World, Many Theories’, Foreign Policy, (110), p. 29. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/1149275.

Recommended Reading

  • Cristol, J. (2009) ‘Morgenthau vs. Morgenthau? “The Six Principles of Political Realism” in Context’, American Foreign Policy Interests, 31(4), pp. 238–244. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10803920903136247.
  • Goddard, S.E. (2009) ‘When Right Makes Might: How Prussia Overturned the European Balance of Power’, International Security, 33(3), pp. 110–142. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2009.33.3.110.
  • Rousseau, D.L. et al. (2012) ‘Democratic leaders and war: simultaneously managing external conflicts and domestic politics’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 66(3), pp. 349–364. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10357718.2012.671289.

Lecture 3: Marx, Peace Studies, and Social Constructivism

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Historical Materialism by Eric Herring
  • Peace Studies by Paul Rogers
  • Social Constructivism by Christine Agius

Essential Required Reading

Recommended Reading

  • Dahl, E.S. (2012) ‘Oil and Water? The Philosophical Commitments of International Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution1: International Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution’, International Studies Review, 14(2), pp. 240–272. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2486.2012.01111.x.
  • Gu, M. (2020) ‘Marx and Engels’ Peace Thought and Its Contemporary Value’, Scientific and Social Research, 2(3). Available at: https://doi.org/10.36922/ssr.v2i3.991.
  • Lake, D.A. (2007) ‘Escape from the State of Nature: Authority and Hierarchy in World Politics’, International Security, 32(1), pp. 47–79. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30129801.

Lecture 4: Critical Security Studies and Postcolonialism

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Critical Security Studies: A Schismatic History by David Mutimer, with Derek Verbakel
  • Critical Security Studies II —Narratives of Security: Other Stories, Other Actors by J. Marshall Beier
  • Postcolonialism by Mark Laffey and Suthaharan Nadarajah

Essential Required Reading

  • Chukwuma, K.H. (2022) ‘Critical terrorism studies and postcolonialism: constructing ungoverned spaces in counter-terrorism discourse in Nigeria’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 15(2), pp. 399–416. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2022.2048990.
  • Rolf, J.N. (2022) ‘The first 100 years: IR, critical security studies and the quest for peace’, International Politics [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-022-00393-w.
  • Sharp, J. (2011) ‘A subaltern critical geopolitics of the war on terror: Postcolonial security in Tanzania’, Geoforum, 42(3), pp. 297–305. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.04.005.

Recommended Reading

  • Browning, C.S. and McDonald, M. (2013) ‘The future of critical security studies: Ethics and the politics of security’, European Journal of International Relations, 19(2), pp. 235–255. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066111419538.
  • Newman, E. (2010) ‘Critical human security studies’, Review of International Studies, 36(1), pp. 77–94. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210509990519.
  • Stamnes, E. (2004) ‘Critical security studies and the united nations preventive deployment in Macedonia’, International Peacekeeping, 11(1), pp. 161–181. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1353331042000228508.

Lecture 5: Critical Security Studies, Gender, and Securitization Theory

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Human Security by Randolph B. Persaud
  • Gender and Security by Caroline Kennedy-Pipe and Sophia Dingli
  • Securitization Theory by Stephane Baele and Catarina Thomson

Essential Required Reading

Recommended Reading

Lecture 6: Military, Regime, and Society

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Military Security by Michael Sheehan
  • Regime Security by Andreas Krieg
  • Societal Security by Paul Roe

Essential Required Reading

  • Allison, R. (2008) ‘Virtual regionalism, regional structures and regime security in Central Asia’, Central Asian Survey, 27(2), pp. 185–202. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/02634930802355121.
  • Buzan, B. (2008) ‘The Changing Agenda of Military Security’, in H.G. Brauch et al. (eds) Globalization and Environmental Challenges. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace), pp. 553–560. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75977-5_41.
  • WÆver, O. (2008) ‘The Changing Agenda of Societal Security’, in H.G. Brauch et al. (eds) Globalization and Environmental Challenges. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace), pp. 581–593. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75977-5_44.

Recommended Reading

  • Diamond, P. (2004) ‘Social Security’, American Economic Review, 94(1), pp. 1–24. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1257/000282804322970670.
  • Holslag, J. (2009) ‘The Persistent Military Security Dilemma between China and India’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 32(6), pp. 811–840. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390903189592.
  • Joachim, J. and Schneiker, A. (2012) ‘Of “true professionals” and “ethical hero warriors”: A gender-discourse analysis of private military and security companies’, Security Dialogue, 43(6), pp. 495–512. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010612463488.

Lecture 7: Coercive Diplomacy, Weapons of Mass Deconstruction, and Interventions

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Coercive Diplomacy: Countering War-Threatening Crises and Armed Conflicts by Peter Viggo Jakobsen
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction by James J. Wirtz
  • Humanitarian Intervention by Alex J. Bellamy and Stephen McLoughlin

Essential Required Reading

  • Byman, D. (2008) ‘Iran, Terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction’, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 31(3), pp. 169–181. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10576100701878424.
  • McGillivray, F. and Stam, A.C. (2004) ‘Political Institutions, Coercive Diplomacy, and the Duration of Economic Sanctions’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48(2), pp. 154–172. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002703262858.
  • Rosenau, J.N. (1969) ‘Intervention as a Scientific Concept’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 13(2), pp. 149–171. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/173371.

Recommended Reading

  • ‘2. Sovereign Default and Military Intervention’ (2019) in Finnemore, M., The Purpose of Intervention. Cornell University Press, pp. 24–51. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7591/9780801467073-003.
  • Jakobsen, P.V. (2016) ‘Coercive Diplomacy’, in Constantinou, C. M., Kerr, P., and Sharp, P., The SAGE Handbook of Diplomacy. 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 476–486. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781473957930.n39.
  • Richardson, M. (2004) ‘A Time Bomb for Global Trade: Maritime-related Terrorism in an Age of Weapons of Mass Destruction’, Maritime Studies, 2004(134), pp. 1–8. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/07266472.2004.10878730.

Lecture 8: Globalization, Economy, and Environment

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Environmental Security by Geoff Dabelko
  • Economic Security by Gary M. Shiffman
  • Globalization, Development, and Security by Nana K. Poku and Jacqueline Therkelsen

Essential Required Reading

Recommended Reading

  • Cha, V.D. (2000) ‘Globalization and the Study of International Security’, Journal of Peace Research, 37(3), pp. 391–403. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343300037003007.
  • Corry, O. (2014) ‘From Defense to Resilience: Environmental Security beyond Neo-liberalism’, International Political Sociology, 8(3), pp. 256–274. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/ips.12057.
  • Woodhouse, T. and Ramsbotham, O. (2005) ‘Cosmopolitan peacekeeping and the globalization of security’, International Peacekeeping, 12(2), pp. 139–156. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01439680500066400.

Lecture 9: Terrorism, Energy Security, and Arms Trafficking

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Terrorism by Brenda Lutz and James Lutz
  • Energy Security by Sam Raphael and Doug Stokes
  • The Weapons Trade by Suzette R. Grillot

Essential Required Reading

  • Piazza, J.A. (2008) ‘Incubators of Terror: Do Failed and Failing States Promote Transnational Terrorism?’, International Studies Quarterly, 52(3), pp. 469–488. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2008.00511.x.
  • Raab, J. (2003) ‘Dark Networks as Problems’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 13(4), pp. 413–439. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/jopart/mug029.
  • Toke, D. and Vezirgiannidou, S.-E. (2013) ‘The relationship between climate change and energy security: key issues and conclusions’, Environmental Politics, 22(4), pp. 537–552. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2013.806631.

Recommended Reading

  • Arsovska, J. and Kostakos, P.A. (2008) ‘Illicit arms trafficking and the limits of rational choice theory: the case of the Balkans’, Trends in Organized Crime, 11(4), pp. 352–378. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-008-9052-y.
  • Goldthau, A. and Sitter, N. (2015) ‘Soft power with a hard edge: EU policy tools and energy security’, Review of International Political Economy, 22(5), pp. 941–965. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2015.1008547.
  • Klausen, J. (2015) ‘Tweeting the Jihad : Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq’, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 38(1), pp. 1–22. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2014.974948.

Lecture 10: Transnational Crime and Cyber Security

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Health and Security by Stefan Elbe and Eva Hilberg
  • Transnational Crime by Nathan P. Jones
  • Cyber-Security by Myriam Dunn Cavelty

Essential Required Reading

  • Aldis, W. (2008) ‘Health security as a public health concept: a critical analysis’, Health Policy and Planning, 23(6), pp. 369–375. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czn030.
  • Simmons, B.A., Lloyd, P. and Stewart, B.M. (2018) ‘The Global Diffusion of Law: Transnational Crime and the Case of Human Trafficking’, International Organization, 72(2), pp. 249–281. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818318000036.
  • Stevens, T. (2018) ‘Global Cybersecurity: New Directions in Theory and Methods’, Politics and Governance, 6(2), pp. 1–4. Available at: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i2.1569.

Recommended Reading

  • ‘Strengthening cooperation against transnational crime’ (1998) Survival, 40(3), pp. 66–88. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/survival/40.3.66.
  • Bowman, B.A. (2008) ‘Transnational Crimes Against Culture: Looting at Archaeological Sites and the “Grey” Market in Antiquities’, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 24(3), pp. 225–242. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1043986208318210.
  • Dunn Cavelty, M. and Wenger, A. (2020) ‘Cyber security meets security politics: Complex technology, fragmented politics, and networked science’, Contemporary Security Policy, 41(1), pp. 5–32. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2019.1678855.

Lecture 11: Future Challenges of Security Studies

Core Required Reading

Collins, A. (ed.) (2022) Contemporary security studies. Sixth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • After the Return to Theory: The Past, Present, and Future of Security Studies by Ole Wæver and Barry Buzan

Essential Required Reading

Recommended Reading

  • Fischer, S. and Wenger, A. (2021) ‘Artificial Intelligence, Forward‐Looking Governance and the Future of Security’, Swiss Political Science Review, 27(1), pp. 170–179. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/spsr.12439.
  • Mbaye, A.A. (2020) ‘Climate Change, Livelihoods, and Conflict in the Sahel’, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 21(1), pp. 12–20. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1353/gia.2020.0020.
  • von Uexkull, N. and Buhaug, H. (2021) ‘Security implications of climate change: A decade of scientific progress’, Journal of Peace Research, 58(1), pp. 3–17. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343320984210.

Required Students’ Skills

Read the course materials carefully and focus on the core and essential required readings that will greatly increase your level of knowledge.

Learn how to use search engines for academic articles, primarily Web of Science, JSTOR, SAGE Journals, and Google Scholar.

To pass an essay assignment with flying colours, you must master the Harvard citation style. Also, it is highly recommended to read the following publication about research methods and design to improve your essay score:

  • Lamont, C. and Boduszynski, M. (2020) Research methods in politics and international relations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Throughout the course, students are also expected to familiarise themselves with leading academic journals to locate the latest articles, thereby connecting with the international relations academic community.