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Programme & Unit Catalogues

PL50763: International security: theories and concepts

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: ES 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Essay (ES 100% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: This unit aims to:
* Identify and analyse the main currents in the academic debate on international security;
* Study and assess the utility and explanatory power of different theories and approaches to international security;
* To understand the evolution of theories of international security;
* To understand and evaluate the main theories of international security, especially realism, liberalism and critical approaches;
* Develop skills in international security analysis and in conducting seminars.

Learning Outcomes: Students who complete the unit successfully will be able to demonstrate that they:
* Have acquired a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of the main theoretical approaches to the study of contemporary international security;
* A comprehensive understanding of the techniques of investigation and analysis applicable to the study of international security;
* Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in international security studies;
* Conceptual knowledge that enables students to both evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in international security studies, and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Skills: The key skills the unit will hone and further develop are:
* Advanced research skills in identifying, locating and exploiting a wide range of descriptive, evaluative and theoretical literature.
* Intellectual skills of conceptual, original and independent thinking, critical analysis, synthesis and reasoned argument.
* Skills of assessment and judgment in relation to the soundness of competing arguments and scenarios, including the reporting and assessing of qualitative and quantitative data.
* Generic and transferable skills related to the oral and written presentation of ideas.
* Skills of self-direction, self-evaluation and time management.

* Introduction: Thinking theoretically about 'International Security'? (AHP)
* Traditional approaches to international security and strategy (AHP)
* Broadening and deepening of security debate (AK)
* Classical Realism (AHP)
* Neorealism and beyond (AHP)
* Liberal approaches to Security (RW)
* Democratic Peace Theory and Security Communities (RW)
* Constructivist approaches (AK)
* Critical Approaches to International security (AK)
* Current Debates and the Limits of Theory (AHP).

Programme availability:

PL50763 is a Designated Essential Unit on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies

PL50763 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies

PL50763 is available for Auditing on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
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