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Critical Security Studies




Admissions requirements

Transnational Politics.


Security is not only a central concept of International Relations; it has taken an ever increasing role in our everyday lives. The concern for collective security has been at the centre of the creation of international institutions such as the United Nations, NATO or the European Union. But security is also invoked in the checks at the airport, in the introduction of biometric identity documents and in the proliferation of CCTV systems. Security is both demanded by citizens from democratic governments, and invoked by dictatorships to repress their populations. So what is security exactly, and what do we mean when we speak about security? Who and what is the object of security, and is security necessarily a common “good”? Does state security have the same value as human security? Is there a tension between liberty and security? Is there such a thing as the security of a nation, a community or an identity?

Traditional security studies typically focus on the ‘threat, use and control of military force’ (Walt) in inter-state relations, and discuss issues of nuclear proliferation, deterrence and power balances. This course will explore approaches that have questioned the assumptions of traditional, military- and state-centred security studies, broadening the security agenda to include political, societal, environmental and economic issues.

The first part of the course will explore theories and concepts associated with the most important new approaches, including Critical Theory, securitization theory and feminist approaches. The second part of the course will explore new issues that have been added to the security agenda, including counter-terrorism, migration, the privatization of security, new technology, human security, and the environment. Students will be encouraged to think about how useful the new critical approaches are in understanding these emerging security issues.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of key issues and processes related to security issues. The focus of this module is on developments since World War Two, but with a particular emphasis on the post-Cold War period. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of major contemporary critical approaches to security, and how they differ from traditional approaches in security studies.

  • Demonstrate a strong knowledge of the complex issues and processes related to major contemporary security issues.

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply conceptual and theoretical tools offered by critical approaches to security to analyse major contemporary security issues.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills; develop the capacity to learn independently, criticise major texts and approaches, and lead class discussions.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for shaping its direction. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar. Students are also recommended to read some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ prior to each seminar and use the extended list as a starting point in their preparation for essay writing.


Seminar participation: 15% (ongoing)
Group presentations: 15% (ongoing, weeks 3-7)
Individual short essay: 30% (2000 words; week 4)
Individual final research essay: 40% (3000 words; week 8)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Columba Peoples and Nicholas Vaughan-Williams, Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2014).


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Edmund Frettingham,