Queen's University


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Instructor: TBC

Email: TBC


This course introduces students to current theoretical and policy debates about the nature of ‘international security.’ In addition to addressing the meaning of this contested concept, we will examine three principal ways in which security has been organized by states, specifically: collective security, collective defence, and security communities.

Available in Summer 2018.


The study of security is a dominant theme in International Relations (IR). In recent years, everything from China's rising, Nuclear proliferation, weak states, terrorist groups, the environment, diseases, organised crime and banking crises has become a security threat. What do these issues share to see them as threats? What constitutes a threat, and to whom? Competing, and, to some degree, ‘incommensurable’ theoretical traditions which ‘see’ very different worlds and types of security threats, have provided different kinds of explanations about whose security is at stake and what kind of threats are worth considering.  In this course, ‘security’ is treated as an essentially contested concept. We explore multiple meanings or interpretations of security drawn from competing IR perspectives (realism, liberalism, constructivism, critical theories), and we then investigate four cases from these perspectives.

The cases are:

  1. The rise of China
  2. The emergence of international norms around Humanitarian Intervention
  3. Terrorism
  4. The ‘securitisation’ of poverty and underdevelopment

The main purpose of the course is to expose students to analysis of a number of pressing contemporary security issues, and the secondary purpose is to do so in a theoretically sophisticated way. This course, in short, will allow you to reflect upon your opinions about current security ‘concerns’, recognize that you may have approached the understanding of them with pre-existing biases.


Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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