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Contemporary Security Issues (Module)

Module description

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.


This is a one-term module for first-year undergraduates on both War Studies and International Relations programmes, building upon the knowledge and skills introduced in the core modules, 'Art of War Studies' (4SSW2019) and 'Conflict and Diplomacy' (4SSW1008), respectively. The module introduces students to core subject knowledge of a range of contemporary security issues, from nuclear proliferation to migration, and is focussed on the development of personal transferable skills in research, presentation and group work.

The module asks three questions of each of the security issues studied: 1) How does a specific issue constitute a security threat? 2) What is the background, narrative, and origin of this issue, and what is the role of this past in the present? 3) What is the best conceptual framework to address this issue and why?

The logic of this course is to help students reach proficiency in three basic sets of skills and knowledge. First, critical reading of press reporting on current and recent affairs. Second, historical research to contextualise and understand the background, discourses, issues, and narratives of contemporary security issues. Third, to investigate these issues through practical analytical application of theoretical concepts and research methods.

The aims of the module are:

  • to help students reach proficiency in core skills and knowledge of contemporary security issues;
  • to demonstrate how issues come to constitute security threats;
  • to examine the background, narrative, and origin of these issues, and to assess the consequences of adopting different conceptual frameworks to address them;
  • to enable students to independently research security issues through open source media, academic resources and appropriate analytical frameworks;
  • to enable students to develop personal transferable skills in research, presentation and group work.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will:

  • understand the different uses and interpretations of the concept of 'security';
  • have knowledge of the main empirical issues of contemporary international security;
  • understand the normative implications of the conceptual debates and empirical issues of contemporary security;
  • have had the opportunity to develop independent open-source and academic research, presentation and group work skills

Staff information

Dr. Pablo de Orellana*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a one term 15-credit module, this will equate to 20 hours of teaching (2 hours per week) with 130 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Coursework & Exam*

Key information

Module code 4SSW1004

Credit level 4

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 15

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module Yes