SOC 2101



Security, Terror, and ‘New Wars’



2018 - 19


Tuesdays, 4 - 6pm


Learning Hub LH 112

except for Week 19 (5th Feb) so go to: LH 228



About the module

This module introduces students to theoretical approaches to understanding (in)security and conflict and explores key contemporary issues related to local, national and global security and the role of the state and other actors in security governance. The module is organised in three sections: 

·        The first section introduces students to theoretical approaches to understanding security, outlining the shift from an emphasis on national security towards more holistic concepts of human and global security.

·        The second section considers contemporary sources of insecurity and responses to them, with a particular focus on issues that challenge a state-centric understanding of global politics due to the role of non-state actors and the global nature of the problems confronted. Issues to be addressed include global terrorism, the contentious concepts of ‘new wars’ and ‘failed states’, and the relationship between security and food availability, health, global information networks, and the environment. 

·        The final section of the course addresses the role of sub- and supra-national actors in the governance of global security. Students will explore the role of commercial and other non-state actors in securing territories and populations, and international attempts to prevent conflict and insecurity through ‘state-building’ and development assistance.



Module Learning Outcomes: On successful completion of the module, with guidance students will be able to

Subject-Specific Knowledge, Understanding & Application

     a) explain contrasting theoretical approaches to understanding (in)security        

b) discuss the interaction of contemporary factors affecting national, human and global security

c) outline the role of state and non-state  actors in governing global security

d) assess the implications of key concepts in International Relations and Politics, such as sovereignty and the state

Employability & Changemaker Skills

e) collect, analyse and synthesise data from a range of sources

f) demontrate ability to construct with due situational circumspection, advice to clients




Autumn term (2017)


2nd Oct

Introduction to the Module


9th Oct

Theorising security [GMcB]


16th Oct

Constructing Security [GD]


23rd Oct

Failed states and International interventions [GMcB]


30th Oct

Human rights and security [GD]


6th Nov

The Friend/Enemy problem [GD]


13th Nov

Tutorial sessions & Skills development


20th Nov

Approaches to understanding war [GMcB]


27th Nov

New wars? [GMcB]


4th Dec

Terrorism and political violence: theory & history [GMcB]


11th Dec

Terrorism in the 21st century [GMcB]






Spring term (2018)


8th Jan

Cyber security and cyber-wars 1 [GMcB]


15th Jan

Cyber security and cyber-wars 2 [GMcB]


22nd Jan

Alien Killings - Drone Ethics [GMcB]


29th Jan

Human security and development  [GD]


5th Feb

Time Constrained Test (1hr) [GMcB]


12th Feb

Critical Security Studies [GD]


19th Feb

Tutorial and Essay Development consultation


26th Feb

The Clash of Fantasies [GD]


5th March

Going Nuclear: From MAD to NUTS [GD]


12th March

Political and Socio-cultural Security: Manufacturing Consent or Managing Dissent? [GD]


19th March

Food and water security [GMcB]


26th March

Environmental security [GD]
































Assessment item


Further information/Rubric



1. Time-constrained test (25%)

5th Feb, 2019

Resit:12th March

This short time-constrained test will be completed in class. You will be required to answer two short essay questions related to theoretical approaches to understanding security and conflict.

c, d

2. Research and report (25%)  1000 words

30th April 2019


Resit: 1st June

Based on independent research, you will write a report advocating greater attention and funding be devoted by governments/inter-governmental organisations to one of the security challenges discussed in the second term

b, e, f

3. 2,000 word essay (50%)

15th May 2019

Resit: 7th June

A list of essay questions is provided below.






Essay questions:


1.  How far is 'national security' now a shared responsibility between state-level agencies and regional and global institutions?
2.  Does the 'Global War on Terror' represent a new kind of war? What political, legal and ethical considerations are raised by the way in which the USA and its allies have tried to address non-state terrorism since 2001?
3.  What does the experience of the United Kingdom's PREVENT strategy tell us about ways in which Western states have conceptualised and attempted to manage the problem of terrorism in the 21st century?

      4.  Demonstrate concretely the inter-connectedness of at least two of the following:  environmental security, food security and health security.

 5.  To what  extent has humanitarian  intervention  become a contested concept in the 21st century?

 6.  What are the characteristics of a ‘fragile’ or ‘weak’ state  and with specific reference to at least one state what efforts have been made to remedy the situation?

7. Give a critical analysis of the conceptualisation and language of 'security'

8. To what extent can Clausewitz's work 'On war' offer analytical insights for strategists of today's conflicts? (n.b. do NOT simply tell us that his work does not address 'new wars')

9. Are 'new wars' a genuine form of war or just violence without borders?

10. 'For hierarchically-ordered centralised states, cyber-war is a losing battle against loosely structured multiple and variable networks of hackers/attackers.' Discuss.

11. In the age of cyber-wars and the cybernetic/computerised control of systems, is the idea that power comes out of the barrel of a gun increasingly redundant?

12. To what extent are wars today human?

13. Can we justify ethically the use of drones in war?

14. How far can it be said that, in western states the relation of human rights to security centres on the balancing of privacy, free speech, and surveillance?


15. To what extent is the rise of populism and Brexit likely to decrease European security?


16. Is Trump undermining Western security?






Details of the University grading system and general marking criteria can be found in Appendix 1 (page 11). The marking criteria for each individual assignment will be posted on NILE.


We aim to mark your work and provide grades and feedback within 3 weeks. All written work is moderated internally and a sample is later submitted to an external examiner. The University does not permit you to ask for work to be remarked.


If you fail or do not submit any of the assessments, you have one further chance to resubmit. Please see Appendix 2 (page 13) for information regarding referrals, deferrals, extensions, mitigating circumstances and penalties for late submission.


Suspected plagiarism will be taken very seriously. Please see Appendix 3 (page 15) for more information on what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, and the University’s procedures related to suspected plagiarism.


Support with study skills that will be necessary to complete your assignment, such as referencing using the Harvard style and locating resources, is available. Please see Appendix 4 (page 16) for more information and useful links. Additional support is available through the University Support and Resources section of the NILE site for this module.


Introductory reading


A weekly reading list will be provided. The following list contains useful introductory reading and contains some of the key texts we will be using during the module.  



Abrahamsen, R. & Williams, M.C. (2010) Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Baker, B. & Scheye, E. (2007) ‘Multi-Layered Justice and Security Delivery in Post-Conflict and Fragile States’, Conflict, Security and Development, 7 (4), 503 – 528.


Beswick, D. and Jackson, P. (2011) Conflict, security and development: an introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.


Buzan, B. (2007) People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era.2nd ed. Colchester: ECPR.


Duffield, M. (2001) Global Governance and the New Wars, London: Zed Books.  


Kaldor, M. (1999) New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era, Cambridge: Polity Press.


Menkhaus, K. (2007) ‘Governance without Government in Somalia: Spoilers, State Building and the Politics of Coping’, International Security, 31 (3), 74-106.


Pratten, D. & Sen, A. (2008) Global Vigilantes, New York: Columbia University Press.


Online resources


There is a huge amount of potentially useful material available online, including government websites, news media, data archives produced by organisations such as the United Nations, and websites of local and international non-governmental organisations. Please see the electronic reading list for this module, available through the ‘Reading List’ folder on NILE for a selection of links.


As always, please be careful about which internet sources you use. Remember that anybody can post material online, so check your sources carefully. Data obtained online must also be referenced. See the university’s Harvard style guide for information about how to do this (link in Appendix 4). If you are unsure about whether a source is appropriate, please consult your tutor.


APPENDIX 1: The Common Academic Framework Assessment Grades


Assessed work for all modules is graded in accordance with the following criteria.






80 - 100


An exceptional first

Work which fulfils all the criteria of the A grade, but at an exceptional standard for the level concerned.

75 - 79


A good first

Work of distinguished quality which is based on extensive research and/or strong technical and creative competence.   An authoritative grasp of concepts, methodology and content appropriate to the subject/discipline and to the assessment task will be demonstrated.  There is clear evidence of originality and insight and an ability to sustain an argument and/or solve discipline-related problems, based on critical analysis and/or evaluation.  The ability to synthesise material effectively and the potential for skilled innovation in thinking and practice will be evident.  Capability in relation to relevant key skills for the assessment task will also be strongly evidenced.

70 - 74


A first

Work of very good quality which displays most, but not all of the A grade characteristics for the level concerned.

67 - 69


A high upper second

Work which clearly fulfils all the criteria of the B grade for the level concerned, but shows greater insight and/or originality.

63 - 66


A good upper second

Work of good quality which is based on a wide range of properly referenced sources and/or creative input, demonstrating a sound and above average level of understanding of concepts, methodology and content appropriate to the subject/discipline and to the assessment task.  There is clear evidence of critical judgement in selecting, ordering and analysing content to construct a sound argument based on responses which reveal occasional insight and/or originality.  Ability to solve discipline-related problems will be effectively and consistently demonstrated, with relevant key skills capability well developed and evidenced.

60 - 62


An upper second

Work of good quality which contains most, but not all of the B grade characteristics for the level concerned.

57 - 59


A high lower second

Work which clearly fulfils all the criteria of the C grade for the level concerned, but shows a greater degree of critical analysis and/or insight.

53 -56


A good lower second

Work of sound quality which is based on satisfactorily referenced sources and/or creative input and which demonstrates a grasp of relevant material and key concepts, together with ability to structure and organise arguments or materials effectively.  The work may be rather standard, but will be mostly accurate, clearly communicated and provide some evidence of ability to engage in critical analysis and/or evaluation.  There will be no serious omissions or irrelevancies and there will be evidence of generally sound capability in key skills relevant to the task.  In dealing with solutions to technical problems, appropriate methods will be chosen.

50 - 52


A lower second

Work of sound quality which contains most, but not all of the C grade characteristics for the level concerned.

47 - 49


A high third

Work of a satisfactory standard demonstrating a reasonable level of understanding, but lacking sufficient analysis and independence to warrant a C grade at the level concerned.

43 - 46


A good third

Work of satisfactory quality which covers the basic subject matter adequately and is appropriately organised and presented, but which is primarily descriptive or derivative rather than analytical or creative.  There may be some misunderstanding of key concepts and limitations in the ability to select relevant material or techniques, and/or in communication or other relevant key skills, so that the work may be flawed by some errors, omissions or irrelevancies.  There will be some evidence of appropriate research and ability to construct an argument, but it may be narrowly focused.  In dealing with solutions to technical problems, established and appropriate methods will generally be chosen, but these may be applied uncritically.

40 - 42


A third

Work of bare pass standard demonstrating some familiarity with relevant subject matter and application of relevant academic capabilities, but only just meeting threshold standards in, e.g., research, analysis, organisation, focus or other key general or subject specific skills essential to the assessment task, and/or with significant errors or omissions.

35 - 39


A marginal fail

Work which indicates some evidence of engagement with the subject material and learning process, but which is, e.g., essentially misinterpreted, misdirected, misunderstood or poorly organised and sketchy or otherwise just failing to meet threshold standards at the level concerned.

20 - 34


A fail

Work that falls well short of the threshold standards at the level concerned.  It may address the task to some extent, or include evidence of successful engagement with some of the subject material, but such satisfactory ingredients will be clearly outweighed by major deficiencies across remaining areas.

5 - 19


A comprehensive fail

Work of poor quality which is based on only minimal understanding, application or effort.  It will offer only very limited evidence of familiarity with subject material or skills appropriate to the discipline or task and/or demonstrates inadequate capability in key general skills essential to the assessment task at the level concerned.

0 - 4



Nothing presented, or work containing nothing of merit.

APPENDIX 2: Assessment regulations and resubmission dates


Extensions: Extensions of up to two weeks can be granted at the discretion of the module coordinator. Please note that evidence is likely to be required to support your request.  Extensions must be requested at least 2 days prior to the assessment deadline.


Mitigating Circumstances Form

If you are experiencing medical or other personal problems that may prevent you from submitting an assignment on time, you should request a Mitigating Circumstances Form available online or from the Framework Office. If your application is successful you will be permitted to take the assessment at a later date (see deferrals below) with no restrictions on the grade you can achieve.


You cannot apply for recognition of mitigating circumstances retrospectively should you be unhappy with your grade or fail to submit an assessment.


Late submission

Assessments that are submitted late, without an agreed extension will be graded as follows:


-                          Submitted within one week of deadline = maximum grade of D-

-                          Submitted more than one week after deadline = referred (see below)


Referral and deferral:

‘Referred assessment’ refers to when a student is permitted to retake an assessment having failed their first attempt (F+, F, F-, G), or having submitted their assessment over a week late or not at all.

The original assessment may be replaced by an alternative assessment, and new deadlines are set (see below). The maximum grade that can be achieved is D-.


‘Deferred assessment’ refers to when a student is permitted to take an assessment at a later date following a successful application for recognition of mitigating circumstances.

The original assessment may be replaced by an alternative assessment, and new deadlines are set (see below). There is no restriction on the grade that can be achieved.



Alternative (referral and deferral) assessment


1. Time constrained test: An alternative assessment will be provided.


2. Research and advocacy report: Another report to be produced dealing with a different topic to that attempted previously.


3. Essay: An essay addressing one of the questions that will be provided in the Assessments folder of the NILE site for this module.


For referred assessments, the student must attempt a different question to that addressed in the first attempt.


APPENDIX 3: Plagiarism


Office of the Academic Registrar – Statement on Plagiarism


The University unequivocally condemns plagiarism, which it considers to be comparable to falsifying data and cheating in an examination, and warns students that the Senate looks gravely upon incidences of plagiarism and is empowered to recommend severe penalties where students are found guilty of plagiarism.




The University considers plagiarism involves an intention to deceive and entails the submission for assessment of work which purports to be that of the student but is in fact wholly or substantially the work of another. Since it is difficult to establish such an intention to deceive except through practice the University defines plagiarism in the following way:


The University defines plagiarism as the incorporation by a student in work for assessment of material which is not their own in the sense that all or substantial part of the work has been copied without any attempt at attribution or has been incorporated as if it were the student's own when in fact it is wholly or substantially the work of another person.


For further details on the policy and procedures regarding suspected academic misconduct, see the University's Academic Integrity Policy for Taught Programmes, which can be downloaded from here.



Further guidance


Cases of suspected plagiarism will be taken very seriously by the course team and referred to the School Academic Misconduct Office. There are serious consequences for anybody found to have committed plagiarism.


If you would like further guidance on plagiarism and how to avoid it, you can take the University of Northampton’s Plagiarism Avoidance Course (UNPAC) online.


In order to identify plagiarism, you are required to submit your work through Turnitin.


Turnitin can also help you to identify whether you have unintentionally copied material from elsewhere. If this is the case, you can revise and resubmit your work as long as it is before the deadline. Therefore, you are advised to submit your work through Turnitin as early as possible. Instructions on how to use Turnitin are available through NILE. Go to the ‘Help’ tab and then ‘NILE guides’ and then ‘Student Resources’, or click here.


APPENDIX 4: Support with study skills and referencing


General support


If a problem arises which may affect your studies, you are encouraged to discuss this in the first instance with one of the module tutors or, if the problem is likely to affect more than one module, with your personal tutor.


Alternatively if you do not wish to discuss the problem with a member of the teaching staff, you could contact the Dean of Students or the Student Support Team.


Study skills and referencing


For support with study skills, you are strongly encouraged to make use of the services and facilities available in the Centre for Achievement and Performance (CfAP) located in the library.  Appointments may be made at the Library and drop-in slots are also available.


Your work should be fully referenced using the Harvard style. For guidance on how to use the Harvard referencing style, please see this guide from the library, which includes information about how to refer to a wide range of sources, such as web pages:


APPENDIX 5: Student Feedback


The course team values student feedback as it provides a means of ensuring and improving quality of provision. We invite you to make your views known or raise issues through the following formal channels:


Student Representatives: their role is to raise any issues affecting the experience of students on a particular course with the module co-ordinator(s) concerned or, where that seems more appropriate, with the relevant subject course leader. They also represent students at the subject board of study, which meets each term and is the formal forum in which issues relating to the subject are discussed. Elected student representatives are invited to attend training sessions on their role. It is up to the student body to brief their representatives on any issues they ought to raise with tutors or at the Board of Studies.

Feedback Questionnaire: We will ask you to complete a questionnaire at the end of the spring term which will inform how this module is taught in the future.





APPENDIX 6: Module Specification



This document forms the definitive overview as to the nature and scope of this module and is used in the University’s quality assurance processes.


The information in this document cannot be changed without approval (except for the Indicative Content).




Business & Law


Economics, International Relations & Development


Economics, International Relations & Development


Security, Terror and New Wars









Graham McBeath





The purpose of this module is to introduce students to approaches to understanding (in)security. Students will explore contemporary security issues that challenge state-centric approaches to global politics, such as global terrorism, environmental security and the concept of failed states, and will explore the role of sub- and supra-national actors in the global governance of security.





* The overall purpose is to outline theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding the varying ideas of security

It discusses the interactions between national security (intelligence and the military) and human and global security (e.g. food shortages, water wars, pandemics)

*  Evaluates the powers of states (e.g. national military) as opposed to non-state actors e.g. ISIS


*  Explores topics such as global terrorism, intra-state conflict and ‘new wars’, and ‘failed states’ and the threats posed to security by climate change and pandemics in relation to development issues..



Module Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, with guidance students will be able to:

Subject-Specific Knowledge, Understanding & Application

     a) explain contrasting theoretical approaches to understanding (in)security        

b) discuss the interaction of contemporary factors affecting national, human and global security


c) outline the role of state and non-state  actors in governing global security


d) assess the implications of key concepts in International Relations and Politics, such as sovereignty and the state


Employability & Changemaker Skills

e) collect, analyse and synthesise data from a range of sources


f) demontrate ability to construct with due situational circumspection, advice to clients



TYPICAL LEARNING, TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT HOURS (for the module as delivered on-site at the University of Northampton):

Learning, Teaching and Assessment activities

Study hours

Contact hours: (total)

Comprising face-to-face and online contact hours as follows:



Face to face interactive small group session


Group workshops





Online contact hours (total)
(online activities/mediated tutor input)


Guided independent study hours (including hours for assessment preparation)


Module Total






Assessment Activity

Learning Outcomes




Assessment Deliverables





Timed-test (1hr) answering two questions

c, d




1000-word advocacy brief

b, e, f




2000-word essay