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Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, we will be prioritising face to face teaching as part of a blended learning approach that builds on the lessons learned over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at: https://warwick.ac.uk/coronavirus.

PO381-30 Critical Security Studies

Department
Politics & International Studies
Level
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Christopher Browning
Credit value
30
Module duration
22 weeks
Assessment
Multiple
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Shock, fear, trauma; feelings of being unsafe, unwanted and misplaced; expressions of anger, dismay, and despair; perceptions of assaults on senses of self, identity, and community. In light of phenomena ranging from economic uncertainty to migration crises to terrorist attacks to Brexit to post-truth politics, these descriptors are characteristic of the Zeitgeist in political and public discourse in much of the Western world. They are also at the heart of the Critical Security Studies (CSS) field, which shifts our focus away from statism and traditional security issues. While conventional approaches to the study of security might ask “What are the national security prerogatives of a country, and how do they translate into conduct in the international arena?”, in CSS we pull back the curtain on what security does. As we shall see, life, death, statehood, community, class, race, gender, and individual perspectives are deeply intertwined in any attempt to define of ‘security’.

Zooming in on “What is security?” and equally importantly, “What is critique?”, the module engages with a broad range of ‘critical’ theoretical lenses, methods and techniques of critical analysis. We will discuss how security practices work, what they do, how they shape - and how they are shaped by - discourses, power relations, and different forms of knowledge. To be ‘critical’, first and foremost, means to be open to challenges that disrupt the familiar, and to be willing to explore and experience new perspectives, new ‘truths’, which, while always eye-opening, may not always be comforting and comfortable.

Module web page

Module aims
  • Provide an advanced level discussion of key contemporary theoretical debates about the meaning of security in international relations.
  • Allow students to identify and explore 'new' issues on the global security agenda through a 'critical' lens.
  • Encourage critical thinking about the meaning and practice of security.
  • Develop student abilities to present a well-made, coherent and logically consistent argument supported by a coherent theoretical framework.
  • Enhance student research skills through the collection and analysis of information from a wide range of sources.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1: Introduction: The Evolution of (Critical) Security Studies
Week 2: Critical Theory and Security
Week 3: Security and Emancipation
Week 4: Engendering Conflict
Week 5: (Just) Securitization and Desecuritization
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Speaking Security
Week 8: Terrorism, Security, Liberty
Week 9: Security and Exceptionalism
Week 10: Identity and Borders
Week 11: Biopolitics
Week 12: (Re)Creating International Hierarchy
Week 13: Spaces of (In)Security
Week 14: Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence
Week 15: Popular Culture and the Everyday of Security
Week 16: Reading Week
Week 17: Militarism, Memorialisation, and Remembrance
Week 18: Ontological (In)Security
Week 19: Security and Ethics
Week 20: Revision Lecture
Term 3 Revision Materials

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the theoretical and conceptual debates associated with ‘critical security studies’ and their relation to ‘traditional’ security studies
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of different critical approaches to the study of security
  • Locate the critical study of security within broader debates in International Security and International Relations
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the range of contemporary issues that could be conceptualised as security threats
  • Demonstrate familiarity with contemporary dynamics and politization of security
Indicative reading list

TBC

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

At the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of key issues and conceptual provocations in critical security studies. You should have acquired a hands-on, critical toolkit to analyse and reflect on contemporary security practices and our own involvement in them, such as counter-terrorism, human security, border security, the securitization of migration, or the gendered dynamics of violence and conflict. And you should have gained the ability to reflect on the possibility of change, on how we might think about security differently to transform the status quo of actual security practices and the practice of theorizing.

Transferable skills

Students should also be able to have acquired transferable skills, in particular the ability to: (a) apply CSS methods and techniques to consolidate, extend, and apply your knowledge and understanding of international security; (b) apply detailed critical analysis and interpretation of a variety of primary and secondary sources to initiate and carry out research projects; (c) process complex material and ideas within the broad field of critical security studies, consider unfamiliar ideas, and challenge your existing ways of thinking; (d) synthesize ideas drawn from different branches of the International Security disciplinary field to understand the emergence, dynamics, and implications of security policy agendas; and (e) communicate clearly key information, ideas, and problems in group discussion, as well as in oral and written presentations.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 18 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 18 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 264 hours (88%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

TBC

Costs

No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group C1
Weighting Study time
3,000 word essay 50%
Online Examination 50%

1.5 hour examination


  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
First 3000 word essay 50%
Second 3000 word essay 50%
Feedback on assessment

Exams and essays are marked according to criteria set out in the Undergraduate Handbook.

Past exam papers for PO381

Courses

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 4 of UECA-4 Undergraduate Economics 4 Year Variants
  • Year 3 of UECA-LM1D Undergraduate Economics, Politics and International Studies

This module is Optional for:

  • UECA-3 Undergraduate Economics 3 Year Variants
    • Year 3 of L100 Economics
    • Year 3 of L116 Economics and Industrial Organization
  • UECA-4 Undergraduate Economics 4 Year Variants
    • Year 4 of L103 Economics with Study Abroad
    • Year 4 of LM1H Economics, Politics & International Studies with Study Abroad
  • Year 3 of UECA-LM1D Undergraduate Economics, Politics and International Studies
  • UHIA-VM14 Undergraduate History and Politics (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 3 of VM14 History and Politics (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
    • Year 4 of VM14 History and Politics (with Year Abroad and a term in Venice)
  • Year 3 of UHIA-VM13 Undergraduate History and Politics (with a term in Venice)
  • Year 4 of UETA-X3Q6 Undergraduate Language, Culture and Communication (with Year Abroad)
  • Year 4 of UPHA-V7MM Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M100 Undergraduate Politics
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M101 Undergraduate Politics (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M168 Undergraduate Politics and International Studies with Chinese
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M169 Undergraduate Politics and International Studies with Chinese (3 year)
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M165 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Italian
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M162 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Quantitative Methods
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M167 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Quantitative Methods (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 3 of UPOA-M16A Undergraduate Politics and International Studies
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M16B Undergraduate Politics and International Studies (with Intercalated Year)
  • Year 3 of UPOA-ML13 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology
  • Year 4 of UPOA-ML14 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M1RC Undergraduate Politics with French
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M163 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and French
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M164 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and German
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M16D Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and German (3 year degree)
  • Year 4 of UPOA-M166 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Hispanic Studies
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M16H Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Hispanic Studies (3 year degree)

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 3 of UHIA-VM11 Undergraduate History and Politics
  • Year 4 of UHIA-VM12 Undergraduate History and Politics (with Year Abroad)