International Security

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  • UniversityMacquarie University
  • AreaSocial sciences
  • CourseInternational Security
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87%Verified Grade
  • Authorjw
  • Created2010
  • Pages14
  • Approved31 July 2014

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About these notes

This unit is essentially about the study of International Security. The study of security, particularly the causes and conduct of major war between states, has been at the heart of the discipline of International Relations from its inception in the early 20th Century, and remains a very important part of scholarship to this day. This course will start by introducing students to the traditional theoretical approaches to security studies, including Realism and Liberalism, as well as non-traditional approaches which have sought to both deepen and broaden our understanding of what ‘security’ actually means.

Traditionally, it is States that have been assumed to be the referent object – the thing to be secured – largely through military force. In the first part of the course, we will start by examining contemporary security threats to the state of a military kind, including issues such as the impact of nuclear weapons on international politics during the Cold War, the attempts made to control the spread of nuclear weapons through the development of common institutions, the adequacy of strategic concepts such as deterrence for combating international terrorism and rogue states, as well as the challenge of irregular warfare and the growing use of private military organisations as providers of security.

From there we move to a discussion of broader conceptions of security, where the state is no longer the central reference point. We start with the concept of societal security (threats to identity) in the context of multitude of ethno-national conflicts which have emerged after the end of the Cold War. We then move on to the concept of human security through an examination of threats to human survival emanating from environmental challenges such as resource scarcity, climate change, and pandemics such as HIV/AIDs. Finally, we turn to the issue of energy security, and whether, and if so, how the quest to secure access to renewable and non-renewable resources has the potential to result in greater inter-state conflict, particularly among the ‘Great Powers’.

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