Security Theory and Practice

Course Description: 

The field of security studies has traditionally been a core area of International Relations. In the recent decades, it has also become one of the most dynamic and contested areas in the field, conducive to the emergence of versatile and transdisciplinary research agendas. This has unfolded in the context of a revival of strategic studies, first in the post 9/11 era, and now in the digital and post-pandemic world. The course surveys the field of contemporary international security theory and practice in three transversal streams: (1) revisiting the foundational concepts that have structured the discipline, including security dilemma, deterrence and security community; (2) examining the conceptual and sociological underpinnings of innovation in critical security studies, including through emancipation, securitisation, and insecurity approaches; (3) discussion of the most recent articulation of security problematic, including ontological and vernacular security, as well as science and technology studies and decolonial interventions.     

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course the students will have:  

  • become familiar with the main debates in contemporary security studies and intersections among them; 

  • become able to identify the assumptions underpinning these debates as well as their origins in social theory; 

  • become familiar with current research conducted within various theoretical frameworks and critically evaluated their arguments; 

  • considered the relevance of particular approaches to their own work and the research of their peers; 

Method   
The seminar aims to develop students’ ability to formulate their arguments critically and coherently and acquire the necessary confidence to voice their positions. It thus relies on students’ thorough preparation and engagement with ideas being discussed. It requires the willingness to get involved in discussion that appreciates alternative points of view without necessarily accepting them, or seeing one’s own as the ultimate one. The following methods are used:   
 
 Seminar discussion  
 Seminar presentation and response  
 Peer review  
 Research essay writing 

Assessment: 
  1. Active seminar participation (15%)  

  2. Two seminar presentations/introductions (15% each, 30% in total)   

  3. Abstract of research essay and peer review of research essay abstract (15% total, 10% submission, 5% peer review)  

  4. Research essay (40%)