International relations

New Security Challenges

Module code: 919M1
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Workshop
Assessment modes: Essay

For much of the 20th century, security was defined in terms of the management of armed conflict between sovereign states, either alone or in alliance. With the end of the Cold War, new sources of insecurity were identified and a 'new agenda' for security policy emerged. Links have been drawn between security and previously unrelated phenomenon such as climate change and the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. For some moreover, new policy approaches centering upon 'human security' rather than international and national security deepened linkages between security and development. 9/11, subsequent al-Qaeda type terrorism, coalition operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and insurgent action against them further highlighted the relation between non-state actors, transnational networks, 'weak' or 'failed' states and the pursuit of security.

This wider agenda has seen an expansion of the kind of organisations and forms of expertise involved in security policy and practice, traditionally understood to be the preserve of state governments. Growing awareness of the dependence of conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilisation on local development and capacity building, for example, has meant increased emphasis on the role of humanitarian and development agencies. 9/11 and subsequent terrorism have also served to highlight the vulnerability of businesses and civilians, raising questions about where responsibility for security provision resides. The potential vulnerability of these actors and agencies meanwhile, has meant an expansion in private-sector security providers, whose services extend from intelligence analysis through to close protection.

Engaging this wide and constantly changing field, New Security Challenges offers an advanced overview of ten contemporary security topics. Each week, the course focuses on a particular issue, the form of threat involved and how institutions and policy makers have sought to respond.

Module learning outcomes

  • Understand the differences between the narrow and the broader security agenda.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the kinds of actors, processes and strategies typically involved in contemporary security policy.
  • Formulate academically informed opinions about, and demonstrate knowledge in depth of, a broad range of contemporary security issues and the potential relations between them.