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Security, Risk and Governance


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Steven Hutchinson
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This module will take you through a comprehensive analysis of how security has been variously understood and articulated over time, and how these different formations have been linked to specific security techniques and processes. This includes early liberal formulations of security-liberty, the national-security problematic, as well as more recent reinventions which prioritise an unimaginable and uncertain future. Without doubt, security is increasingly one of the key prisms through which complex social and political problems - not least of which crime and local disorder - are understood and governed.

The module will provide you with a critical understanding of the history of security in order to frame more recent developments that are now being addressed across a number of disciplines, including criminology, law and legal studies, and international relations. You will gain a critical understanding of the post-Cold War ‘fragmentation’ of security, the changes wrought by the steady advance of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, and the consequences of the ‘securitisation’ of everything from food to public health.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Conceptualising (In)Security
  • Governing Security, Governing Through Security
  • The Classical Liberal Formulation - Security and Liberty
  • Social (Welfare) Liberalism and the Rise of Social Security
  • Neoliberalism and the National Security State
  • Private Security, Private Justice
  • Private Military Companies (PMCs) and the Private Intelligence Sector
  • Voluntary and Non-governmental Provision
  • Precaution, Preparedness, Pre-emption and Other Security Techniques
  • Security and Justice
  • The ‘Broadening’ Agenda - Food, Water, Health and the Environment
  • The ‘Deepening’ Agenda - The Paris School, The Copenhagen School, and International Political Sociology
  • Human Security and Individuation
  • Anti-Security
  • Too Much Security?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

    • demonstrate a critical understanding of the various approaches to understanding and studying security
    • demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the contemporary conceptualisations of security
    • demonstrate a clear understanding of the various liberal formations of security and the intricate and shifting relationship between security and liberty
    • identify and critically analyse a number of key examples of the ‘fragmentation’ of security, including the role of the private, voluntary and non-governmental sectors
    • understand and critically evaluate the changes to security wrought by neoliberalism and neoconservatism
    • understand critically the dramatic changes brought about by the securitisation of crime and criminal justice
    • identify and critically analyse a number of key security techniques, including preparedness, pre-emption and precaution
    • appreciate and critically evaluate the contributions of the ‘securitisation’ School in understanding contemporary security processes
    • understand and critically assess a number of alternatives to security, including ‘human security’ and ‘anti-security’ discourses.