Critical Security Studies

Course Description: 

Core course for IR track students.

This course, which is taught at both the PhD and MA levels, is concerned with how the so-called ‘critical turn’ in International Relations has been reflected specifically in thinking about Strategy and Security.
‘Critical Security Studies’ is, in its broadest sense, a collection of approaches all united by a profound dissatisfaction with so-called ‘traditional’ security studies. Critical Security Studies seeks to question, though not always completely do away with, the foundations upon which the dominant state-centrism and military-centrism is built.
This course deals with a number of these approaches: from the ‘conventional’ constructivists, through the ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘Aberystwyth’, or ‘Welsh’, Schools, to more ‘critical’ constructivist positions. In doing so, not only does it seek to illuminate the main theoretical assumptions underpinning each of the various approaches, but also to explore just how they are ‘critical’; that is, in what ways they challenge traditional security studies, and in what ways they compare and contrast with each other. While the course is mainly theoretical in its orientation, much emphasis is also placed on empirical application; how, and to what kind of cases, each of the approaches can be profitably applied.