PO3CSS-Introduction to Critical Security Studies

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Andreas Behnke

Email: a.behnke@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The module provides an introduction to the increasingly prominent field of Critical Security Studies. It provides the students with the conceptual and theoretical tools to critically examine recent developments within domestic as well as international security issues.

The aims of this module are as follows:
•to introduce students to the academic study of Critical Security Studies
•to provide an overview of the new theories and empirical issues in contemporary security studies;
•to equip students with the theoretical and empirical foundations for more advanced study of security studies, focusing on aspects of culture and identity;
•to enable students to critically study representations of politics, culture, and identity in popular media such as films and images.
•to develop critical and analytical skills through the engagement with a diverse and demanding range of literature and to demonstrate these skills in essays, presentations and research reports.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is intended that the student will be able to

  • demonstrate the ability to critically reflect upon the basic theoretical assumptions underlying different definitions of security;
  • analyse and evaluate the role of culture and identity in international security, the critical role of sovereignty and security in the creation of political order, and the problems involved in the securitisation of new areas, such as migration, economy and environment;
  • appreciate the way in which different conceptions of the Political underlie prevailing approaches to security.

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to introduce students to learning through discussion groups.

Outline content:
Indicative content:
What is ‘security’? Why do we consider it to be a central issue for both domestic and international politics? How do different theoretical, political, and cultural contexts influence our understandings of this concept? This module provides an introduction into increasingly influential sub-discipline of Critical Security Studies. It is made up of two parts. Part I presents an overview over the theoretical and philosophical arguments in support of a critical investigation of the basic assumptions underlying often taken-for-granted definitions of security. In particular, module will examine the securitisation of referent objects of security such as the state, the environment, and social and cultural identities such as ‘Muslim’ or ‘terrorists’.
Part II of the module will introduce students to the critical analysis of securitisations in popular culture. This part will include the viewing of three films, each one of which presents or problematizes specific cultural aspects of security. The films will be the background against which we will discuss the social construction of national identities, the ‘othering’ of cultural identities, and the legitimation of violence on behalf of such identities.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
2 x one-hour lectures at the beginning of term respectively, and 11 x two-hour seminar classes requiring preparatory reading, oral presentations and written essays requiring independent study. Three seminars in spring will be dedicated to film screenings.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 1 1
Seminars 10 12
Guided independent study 88 88
Total hours by term 99.00 101.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Report 60

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write a total of two assignments, one of 3,000 words (40%) and one of 4,000 words (60%).
There will be NO examination.

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credits. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one 3500 word essay in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Students will prepare one seminar discussion paper for the Autumn Term and prepare an introduction to a film viewing for the Spring Term. Feedback on both presentations will be given to students.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    No examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Candidates who fail their final year normally have the right to be re-examined on one further occasion at the next opportunity. These candidates will not normally be eligible for Honours (ie., only a ‘Pass’ classification would be attainable). Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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