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New Security Challenges (PO967)


Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics; the precise seminar content and order may change slightly from year to year.

  • What’s New about New Security Challenges?
  • New Wars Virtual Wars and the RMA
  • Arms Trade and Proliferation
  • Nuclear Weapons and Ballistic Missile Defence
  • International Terrorism
  • Humanitarian Intervention
  • Privatisation of Security
  • United Nations
  • Regional Security Actors
  • Energy Security and Resource Conflict
  • Immigration, Migration and Refugees
  • Poverty
  • Health
  • Global Commons
  • Militarised Masculinities
  • Contested Spaces – Borders and Global Cultural Heritage
  • Conclusion: An emancipatory agenda or ‘old wine in new bottles’?

The aim of this module is to provide students with a critical introduction to debates concerning a range of perceived ‘new’ security challenges which are increasingly important for shaping global agendas in the 21st century. While the module connects to the core module ‘Concepts and Theories of International Security’, which provides the theoretical framework for the understanding of international security, it is also suitable as a stand-alone module for students on other programmes.

Students who have taken this module have gone on to work in a wide range of areas including international diplomacy, development, arms control, the security industry, risk analysis, the media, and for organisations including the UN, OSCE, EU, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Oxfam, African Union, BASIC, as well as pursuing further research in international security at doctoral level.

Programme content

The module focuses on critically analysing and understanding the broad range of issues on global security agendas, interrogating them from international, regional, state, organisational and human security perspectives. To do this the module is organised into four parts.


Part one analyses the changing nature of war and conflict, including issues of terrorism, counter-terrorism and debates about the legitimacy of military intervention and peacekeeping. Part two looks at the role of global and regional organisations in providing security and responding to major international security problems. Part three analyses a number of so-called ‘new security challenges’ that have become increasingly central to international security agendas since the end of the Cold War. Included here are issues of energy, poverty, health, climate change and immigration. Finally, part four analyses various contested sites of security, looking at how the global commons, gender, borders and global cultural heritage operate as sites for the construction and contestation of security.

Throughout the module students will be encouraged to reflect on how security agendas are constructed, by whom, for whose benefit and with what effects and what the various available policy options are for tackling them. Students will also be encouraged to consider whether the constitution of issues as matters of security is necessarily a positive move in the first place and whether the labelling of increasingly diverse concerns as matters of ‘security’ fails to set priorities?

Module Director:
Chris Browning

CATS: 40

Sample reading list (PDF Document)