87564 - Topics In International Security

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Gender equality Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

This course offers an introduction to the study of some of the major security issues in the contemporary world. In particular, it explores a series of empirical phenomena and themes in light of the most important concepts and theories in international relations theory. Students are expected to learn why countries go to war as well as why groups use terrorism. They will also acquire knowledge on nuclear proliferation, the prospects and pitfalls of military intervention, and on the role of technology and robotics (from nuclear weapons to unmanned drones) in threatening and strengthening the international order. At the end of the course, students are expected to understand the fundamental aspects and the distinctive elements of a variety of security issues in the current world. Finally, students will be able both to examine security threats and to devise the most appropriate policy response.

Course contents

Class 1: Introduction

No readings

Class 2: Security as a Multidimensional Concept

- Emma Rotschild, “What is Security?,” Daedalus, Vol. 124, No. 3, (Summer, 1995), pp. 53-98.

- John Mueller & Mark G. Stewart, “Terrorism and Bathtubs: Comparing and Assessing the Risks”, Terrorism and Political Violence, published online 28 December 2018.

Class 3 and 4: Inter-state conflicts

- Geoffrey, Blaney, The Causes of War, New York, The Free Press, Ch. 8, 9.

- Azar Gat , “The Changing Character of War”, in Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers (eds)

The Changing Character of War, Ch. 1; available at http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.ezproxy.unibo.it/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199596737.001.0001/acprof-9780199596737-chapter-2

Class 5: US-China Rivalry?

- J. Mearsheimer, “The Gathering Storm: China's Challenge to US Power in Asia," The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 3 (4), 2010, pp. 381-396.

- G. Allison, “The Thucydides Trap”, Foreign Policy, 9 June 2017, available at https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/09/the-thucydides-trap/# [https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/09/the-thucydides-trap/]

- Suisheng Zhao, “American Reflections on the Engagement with China and Responses to President Xi’s New Model of Major Power Relations,” Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 26, no. 106, 489–503

Class 6: Civil Wars

- Francesco N. Moro "Civil Wars", in Paul Joseph ed., The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives, Sage 2017.

- Stathis N. Kalyvas, “The Changing Character of Civil Wars, 1800–2009”, in Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers (eds) The Changing Character of War, Ch. 11; available at http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.ezproxy.unibo.it/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199596737.001.0001/acprof-9780199596737-chapter-12

Class 7: From Post-Conflict Stabilization to Sustaining Peace

  • TBD
  • TBD

Class 8: Terrorism

- Isabelle Duyvesteyn, 2010, How New Is the New Terrorism?, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 27:5, 439-454, DOI: 10.1080/10576100490483750

- Andrew Silke, 2013. “Fire of Iolaus: The role of state countermeasures in causing terrorism and what needs to be done”, in John G. Horgan, Kurt Braddock (eds), Terrorism Studies

A Reader, Routledge: London, chapter 21.

Class 9: Insurgency


Class 10: Counter-insurgency

- D., Galula, Counterinsuregency Warfare: Theory and Practice, Westport, Praeger, Ch. 1, 7.

- L. Zambernardi, “Counterinsurgency Impossible Trilemma”, Washington Quarterly, Vol. 33, n. 3, 2010, pp. 21-34; available at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/legacy_files/files/publication/twq10julyzambernardi.pdf.

Class 11: Mid-term

Class 12: Drone Warfare

- P.W. Singer, “Robots at War: The New Battlefield”, in Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers (eds) The Changing Character of War, 18; available at http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.ezproxy.unibo.it/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199596737.001.0001/acprof-9780199596737-chapter-19

- G. Chamayou, Drone Theory, London, Penguin.

Class 13: The War in Afghanistan

- M. Barry, Kabul's Long Shadows: Historical Perspectives, Liechtenstein Institute at Princeton, 2011; available at http://www.operationspaix.net/DATA/DOCUMENT/4371~v~Kabuls_Long_Shadows__Historical_Perspectives.pdf

Class 14: From military to security interventions?

- Kaldor, M and Selchow, 2015. From Military to ‘Security Interventions’: An Alternative Approach to Contemporary Interventions. Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, 4(1): 32, pp. 1–12, DOI: http://dx.doi. org/10.5334/sta.fu

- Tal Dingott Alkopher, 2016. From Kosovo to Syria: the transformation of NATO Secretaries General's discourse on military humanitarian intervention, European Security, 25:1, 49-71


Class 15: The securitization of education between peacebuilding and counter-radicalisation




Class 16: Transnational organised crime and the security nexus

- John T. Picarelli 2007. The Turbulent Nexus Of Transnational Organised Crime And Terrorism: A Theory of Malevolent International Relations, Global Crime, 7:1, 1-24, DOI: 10.1080/17440570600650125

- Francesco Strazzari & Alessandra Russo (2014) US mainland, EU archipelago? Convergence and divergence on transnational organized crime, European Security, 23:4, 529-545, DOI: 10.1080/09662839.2014.933207

Class 17: The security of energy and climate change

- Aleh Cherp, Jessica Jewell, 2014. The concept of energy security: Beyond the four As,

Energy Policy, 75: 415-421, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2014.09.005.

- Andrej Krickovic (2015) When Interdependence Produces Conflict: EU–Russia Energy Relations as a Security Dilemma, Contemporary Security Policy, 36:1, 3-26, DOI: 10.1080/13523260.2015.1012350

Class 18: Gender in conflict and security

- Segal Lynne 2008, “Gender, War and Militarism: Making and Questioning the Links”, Feminist Review, 88: 21-35.

- Brunner Claudia, 2016, “Expanding the Combat Zone: Sex-Gender-Culture Talk and Cognitive Militarization Today”, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 18(3): 371-389.

Class 19: Security approaches to migration

- Huysmans Jef, 2000, Migration and the Politics of Security. In: Body-Gendrot S., Martiniello M. (eds) Minorities in European Cities. Migration, Minorities and Citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan, London

- Philippe Bourbeau, 2015, Migration, Resilience and Security: Responses to New Inflows of Asylum Seekers and Migrants, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41:12, 1958-1977, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1047331 [https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2015.1047331]

Class 20: Final Exam


For students not attending classes:

the above readings and the following book

Paul D. Williams, Matt McDonald (eds) Security Studies an introduction, Routledge, London, 2018.

Teaching methods

Seminars, class discussion, presentations

Assessment methods

Class participation: 10%

Presentation: 30%

Mid-term: 30%

Final: 30%

Teaching tools

Power point, videos

Office hours

See the website of Lorenzo Zambernardi