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Unit information: Governing Through Insecurity: Institutions and Issues in Contemporary Security Governance in 2020/21

Unit name Governing Through Insecurity: Institutions and Issues in Contemporary Security Governance
Unit code POLI20013
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Peoples
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit assesses the politics of contemporary security governance and considers the extent to which it constitutes a shift away from or challenges the ideal of the nation-state as security provider. To do so the unit commences by asking what constitutes security governance, and how we can critically study the subject. It then turns to an analysis of a range of different institutions and actors that now claim a security role within global governance. We will discuss how different types of institutions conceive of and practice contemporary security governance, and critically assess their status as security providers. Specifically, we will examine the roles, capabilities and strategies of: global organizations (the United Nations) and regimes (the nuclear non-proliferation regime); regional alliances and actors (NATO, the European Union, and the African Union); states as potential providers of global security governance (with a specific focus on the United States); and non-state actors (Non-Governmental Organizations and Private Military and Security Companies) as ‘private’ providers of security.


The aim of this unit is to help students as citizens and future decision-makers broaden their understanding of the variety of issues involved in contemporary security governance, and to enhance their critical understanding of a range of key institutions and actors that currently attempt to govern various forms of insecurity.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit and via the unit assessment, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of theoretical concepts and approaches in the study of contemporary security governance
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with key texts in the study of security governance
  • Critically assess the fragmentation of security policy making among multiple institutions
  • Critically evaluate the contributions of different institutions to addressing forms of insecurity
  • Critically assess the capabilities and strategies of different security institutions

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

  • Book Review Assignment, 1000 words (25%) [assesses learning outcome 2 in particular]
  • Essay, 3000 words (75%) [assesses all learning outcomes]

Reading and References

  • Anthony Burke and Rita Parker (eds.) (2017) Global Insecurity: Futures of Global Chaos and Governance (London: Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Christopher Daase and Friesendorf, Cornelius (eds.) (2010) Rethinking Security Governance: The Problem of Unintended Consequences (London: Routledge)
  • Thomas Hale, David Held and Kevin Young (2013) Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing When we Need it Most (Cambridge: Polity Press)
  • Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones (2015) Governing Borderless Threats: Non-Traditional Security and the Politics of State Transformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Elke Krahmann (2010) States, Citizens and the Privatization of Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)