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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2020/2021

International Security

Area of studies: Foreign Regional Studies
When: 2 year, 3, 4 module
Mode of studies: offline
Instructors: Ksenia Andruschenko
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4

Course Syllabus


The aim of this course is to introduce students to the theorisation of security as a pillar of the study of international relations and world politics. The course will analyse the frameworks and meanings of ‘security’ in international relations before, during and after the Cold War. It will critically examine – within the context of globalisation – the different conceptualisations of ‘security’ offered by the main theoretical fields. Finally, it will discuss new issues being raised in contemporary security studies, with a view to sketching out future implications for study and practice. Topics and issues like the environment, gender, peace processes, terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction (among others) are highly relevant in today’s globalised world. The course will seek to address their significance for security studies, and explore the ways in which they alter, transform or interact with traditional notions of “security”.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To help students familiarise themselves with the notion of ‘security’ in international relations and world politics.
  • To help them understand the mechanisms of international, national, regional and individual decision-making with regards to security politics.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students need to get familiar with the syllabus and the program.
  • Students are supposed to get familiar with the theory of realism.
  • Students learn how to challenge the traditional approach to international security.
  • Students shall get yourself familiar with postcolonialism and its components.
  • Students study post-structuralism and other critical approaches.
  • Students investigate the balance between international and individual security.
  • Students should get the basic understanding of peace operations.
  • Students research WMD problems and the issue of cyberterrorism.
  • Students shall learn about the latest trend in the area of health security.
  • Students shall learn different approached to the research of terrorism.
  • Students shall study the proliferation of the private military companies.
  • Students should get themselves familiar with the concept of R2P and the controversies that surround it.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction and Class organisation
    Collins, Ch.1
  • Realism
    • Is realism a theory of/for the powerful? • How useful is realism in helping us understand globalisation? • How would realism understand/explain terrorism? • How many ‘realisms’ can there exist? • What are the differences between offensive and defensive realists, and offensive and defensive neo-realists?
  • Liberalism
    Do you think the proliferation of institutions mitigates the effects of anarchy? • Are institutions equally useful for super-powers, middle powers and small states? • Is the Democratic Peace Thesis appealing or are there any drawbacks to it? • Is liberalism just a rhetoric masking realist interests? • How might international institutions and organisations promote stability and peace?
  • Social Constructivism
    How do constructivists think about actors? • Are constructivist approaches more convincing about the international system than traditional theories? • Are insecurities real or constructed? • What are some of constructivism’s drawbacks?
  • Poststructuralism
    • Are post-structural approaches useful or are they merely an ‘intellectual exercise’? • Do you agree with Ken Booth that, “if poststructural/postmodern thinking did not exist… we would have had to have invented it”? • What is the difference between theory and practice, according to poststructural approaches?
  • Critical Security Studies - Emancipation
    • How are critical approaches to security advancing our understandings of insecurity? • Is there any point in examining meanings in international security or should we be more concerned about how such meanings are formed/adopted? • Is ‘a world without states’ just a claim or could it ever be reality? • During the Cold War, terrorism resulted in more deaths than nowadays, but it was not considered as threatening as nuclear war. Could something else replace terrorism in the future as the biggest threat?
  • Critical Security Studies - Securitisation
    • What determines who can speak security? • Is securitisation a ‘critical’ approach, or is it ‘not critical enough’? • Is securitisation theory’s main framework a Western model or can it be applied universally? • Are ethics and norms implied in securitisation theory? If not, should they?
  • Postcolonialism
    • Will dominant/powerful states ever see non-powerful states or stateless nations eye-to-eye? • Does postcolonialism offer a completely different version of history to the one we are used to? • How convincing are postcolonial/ist approaches? Does the conviction differ depending where we are from? • How many subalterns can you identify in your everyday encounters?
  • Human Security
    • Should powerful, stable and democratic countries care for the welfare and well-being of individuals in less stable and undemocratic countries? • Do you think the shift in our focus from the survival of states to the survival of individuals is one with merits or one with dangers? • Can ‘freedom from fear’ reconcile with ‘freedom from want’, or will they forever be irreconcilable? • Is ‘human security’ adding anything new to our preoccupations with security, or is it simply just another reiteration of the UN Charter? • Can ‘human security’ coexist with Realism?
  • EXAM
  • International Security II. Introduction and Class Organisation.
    Collins, Ch.1
  • Contemporary Issues: Gender Security
    • Do you think the role of women (as mothers, soldiers’ wives, sex-workers, community leaders, homemakers, etc) is relevant to the study of security? • How does the ‘women and children first’ endanger the lives of men? • By seeking to subordinate women, masculinist/machist systems seek to elevate men’s role(s). But do you think they are counter-productive, i.e., they end up undermining men’s rates of survival? • Can national security undermine personal security?
  • Contemporary Issues: Environmental and Energy Security
    • Does focusing on the environment change the whole meaning of ‘national security’? If so, how? • Is the protection of the environment a matter of international, state or individual action? • Is capitalism and the protection of the environment incompatible? • How do you feel knowing that your life on this planet will deteriorate because of the actions of previous generations? • How do you feel knowing that your life on this planet will deteriorate because of your lack of actions?
  • Contemporary Issues: Terrorism
    • If ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom-fighter’, who is the terrorist and who is the freedom-fighter? • If terrorism ‘can never win’, why hasn’t terrorism eclipsed? • Is terrorism a problem of misconceptions? • Can we eliminate terrorism if we change our understandings of ‘power’, ‘dominance’, and ‘control’? • If all governments throughout the ages have negotiated with terrorists, why do all governments insist that they ‘don’t negotiate with terrorists’?
  • Contemporary Issues: WMD & Cybersecurity
    • Can you see any changes in the motivations of states to acquire nuclear weapons since the end of the Second World War? • Nuclear capability of states has not stopped them engaging in conventional warfare (for example, India and Pakistan, Israel and its neighbouring countries, etc). What then is the utility of possessing nuclear weapons? • Is cyber-insecurity more threatening than other forms of insecurity, or is it just a nuisance when compared to those? • Is it possible to mitigate cyber-threats without undermining civil liberties, or are the two incompatible?
  • Contemporary Issues: Health Security
    • If more people globally die from falling down the stairs, why are we so afraid of a virus that kills less than 1000 people in a year? • Should ‘health security’ be concerned more with global inequality rather than with health scares? • Could health security be more efficient if it avoided use of terroristic language? • What are the interests behind the securitisation of non-transmittable diseases?
  • Contemporary Issues: Responsibility to Protect
    • Is there a point in having a norm (like R2P) if states are selective about its invocation? • How is political liberalism and the UN Charter different from R2P? • Is R2P here to stay, or is it just another fad? • To date, R2P has only been used against states of the Global South. Considering the problems and crises occurring in the Western world, could we ever see R2P invoked against Western states? • Does R2P strengthen international institutions or does it make them even more inefficient in dealing with humanitarian crises?
  • Contemporary Issues: Peace Operations
    • How do you understand ‘peace’? • Is there merit in saving people’s lives from violence in far-away places? • Can there be ‘peaces’ in the midst of war? • How do different theories of International Security conceptualise ‘peace’?
  • Contemporary Issues: Private Military Companies
    • Considering the history of mercenaries goes back thousands of years, would you say the focus on private military companies is unjustified? • What are the implications of the proliferation of private military and security companies? • If war is the exact opposite of peace, can you conceive of private companies that would benefit from the establishment and self-sustainability of peace?
  • EXAM
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Exam (3 module)
  • non-blocking Participation (3 module)
  • non-blocking Exam (4 module)
  • non-blocking Presentation (4 module)
  • non-blocking Participation (4 module)
    The course is split between lectures (1st half of each weekly session) and tutorials/seminars (2nd half of each weekly session). Attendance is compulsory for both.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.5 * Exam (3 module) + 0.5 * Participation (3 module)
  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.4 * Exam (4 module) + 0.2 * Participation (4 module) + 0.4 * Presentation (4 module)


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Contemporary security studies ed. by Alan Collins. (2010).
  • Peoples, C., & Vaughan-Williams, N. (2015). Critical Security Studies : An Introduction (Vol. 2nd ed). London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=837940

Recommended Additional Bibliography

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  • Barkawi, T. (2016). Decolonising war. European Journal of International Security ; Volume 1, Issue 2, Page 199-214 ; ISSN 2057-5637 2057-5645. https://doi.org/10.1017/eis.2016.7
  • Bellamy, A. J. (n.d.). The Responsibility to Protect: Added value or hot air? Cooperation and Conflict, 48(3), 333–357. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010836713482448
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  • Curley, M., & Herington, J. (2015). The securitisation of avian influenza: International discourses and domestic politics in Asia. Review of International Studies. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210510000537
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