Module Details

GV517-7-FY-CO: International Security Studies

Year: 2017/18
Department: Government
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Tobias Bohmelt
Teaching Staff: Dr Tobias Bohmelt
Contact details: Dr Bohmelt or Graduate Administrator Alex West

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

The field of Security Studies has enjoyed wide attention over the last decades. This did not end with the Cold War, but, in fact, Security Studies became even more prominent and relevant afterwards in light of "conventional" wars and "unconventional" engagements like peacekeeping missions, counterinsurgency operations, or anti-terror campaigns such as the "War on Terror."

While old conflicts are reigniting and new ones emerging, the scholarly literature and policy-makers debate about "changes" to concepts of security, particularly in the form of new forms of conflicts, new threats and challenges, and new actors. Issues such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, asymmetric warfare, and others have received greater prominence than before. Generally, the (traditional) realist preoccupation of superpower nuclear conflict is no longer perceived as a realistic option, however, and the academic and policy discussions have been dominated by a more varied set of considerations since the end of the Cold War: for example, the nature of security, strategy, the (declining) centrality of the state, and the balance between military and non-military aspects of security.

This module explores these and several other related issues from a broad range of theoretical and empirical perspectives. It is divided into three sections. First, we study some of the general and most important theoretical concepts in the security-studies literature. This establishes a common theoretical background. The second part deals with issues of military security in depth, both theoretically and empirically: for instance, intelligence, defense technology, or arms control. Finally, we look at a wide variety of contemporary ("new") issues in the third section of the module. These include the role of the UN in peacekeeping, intrastate warfare, counterinsurgency operations, and a series of regional case studies.

The module can be taken as a final year option for undergraduate students and as an option for postgraduates. This document provides all essential details about the module. It also contains the basic list of readings. Students should retain it for the duration of the module.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module is organized along weekly one-hour lectures and weekly one-hour classes.

Lectures: 1 hour per week

Classes: Students will be allocated to a weekly class. These classes largely parallel the material of the lectures. Attendance at classes is compulsory. If (for any reason) students are unable to attend, they must notify the module supervisor to explain their absence. In the classes, the most important material and issues raised in the lecture will be discussed in more detail. It is expected that student have read the set reading for a specific week and are prepared to discuss it.


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark


2 x 3000 word essays, equally weighted

Exam Duration and Period

3:00 during Summer Examination period.

Other information

Aims of the Module

To provide students with the main theoretical arguments of 'security studies' and related fields such as 'strategic studies.'

To engage students in a wide range of applied empirical material relating to the security agenda, the use of military force and supporting elements.

To present a range of contemporary security issues, which are discussed both from a theoretical and empirical perspective.

Module Objectives

By the end of the module, students should:

Be able to critically compare different theoretical approaches to global security studies.

Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of contemporary issues in security studies.

Be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of differing forms of security organisations.

To show a systematic understanding of the military components of security applied in conflicts since 1945.

Be able to express well-informed opinions about contemporary security issues.

Key Skills

By following this module, students will have the opportunity to gain the following skills:

Select and read appropriate material that contains required information and data.

Synthesise the obtained information to use it for relevant purposes (e.g. essays, presentations, discussions, etc.).

Organise information clearly and coherently.

Explore complex problems and analyse their main features.


  • These texts provide the basis for the module.
  • Baylis, John, James J. Wirtz, and Colin S. Gray (eds). 2016. Strategy in the Contemporary World. Fifth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Snyder, Craig A. (ed). 2011. Contemporary Security and Strategy. Third Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Nick Vivyan
    Institution: University of Durham
    Academic Role: Senior Lecturer