Western National Security: Twenty-First Century Global Challenges

Frederic Ischebeck-Baum, and Dr Thomas Maguire

WesternThis course will focus on the myriad challenges facing western national security officials today. It will deal with so-called conventional, i.e. military, and unconventional, more irregular threats. The course participants will learn about the basic notions of national security, grand and military strategy, and how all must be put in relation to international security interests and geopolitics. In the early twenty-first century, globalisation, technology and the internet play an important role in the overall assessment of our strategic environment, and with that they play an important role for the implementation of national interest. Among other things, this includes dealing with extremism, political violence, organised crime or politically unstable regions. Often overlooked, it also includes energy security. What threats are we facing today and how can we deal with them? What actually makes a threat? What makes a successful national security strategy? Why are some threats global and others regional? These and other questions will be dealt with, analysed and discussed during the course.

Topics include:

Basic understanding of National Security and related strategy

  • Threats relating to conventional warfare and security policy
  • Cyber-terrorism, cyber-warfare, cyber-espionage, and cyber-crime;
  • The use of the internet and social media for purposes of undermining law and order, extremism, and revolution;
  • Terrorism, including the risk of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) events;
  • The implications of ‘failed and failing states’ and adapting forms of transnational organised crime
  • Energy security and related geopolitics

Note that students should purchase the following book in advance: Richards, Julian, A Guide to National Security: Threats, Responses and Strategies (2012), Oxford University Press

The 12 lecture course is divided into lecture blocks that engage each topic holistically while challenging students to identify the ways in which the subjects relate to a nation’s greater security concerns. The seminar element of the course enables students to produce briefs on a particular security challenge and recommended courses of action based on set readings and their own interests and understanding. Students will benefit from a general knowledge of current affairs but will only be held accountable for material introduced in class and used during the course of the two short research papers. The course will include guest lectures by former security practitioners and the authors of relevant principal texts.

If you’re interested in this course, you might also like to consider taking International Law/War(fare), or Understanding World Politics: A Critical Overview of Core Issues and Theories.


Mid-term Essay: 20%

Final Essay (2,500-3,000 words): 40%

Final Exam: 40%

Lecture Hours: 12 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar Hours: 8 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 10 hours)