Security And Insecurity What Role Does The Search For Security Play In The International System And Is This Changing?
Security and insecurity
What role does the search for security play in the international system and is this changing?
This essay allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of:
patterns of conflict and cooperation, order and disorder in the international system and contending ideas about the potential for and sources of those, including questions relating to political change, economic development, inequality, international cooperation and governance, and security
historical development of the state system and the international economy and debates in politics and international relations, and economics around their growth, change and transformation
key theories and approaches within international relations and contending ideas about the character of, and continuities and change within, the international system.
The essay also allows you to demonstrate your ability to:
define and use key concepts, abstract models and theories from international relations, as well as politics and economics, to study the international system and the processes within it
analyse complex issues in international relations and critically evaluate different kinds of evidence from a variety of sources to develop detailed, reasoned arguments
carry out a piece of independent research using concepts, models, theories and evidence to address a question or problem about continuity and change in the international system, including definition of the scope of the question to be addressed and choice of appropriate empirical cases
confidently select, summarise and synthesise complex information from a range of materials and sources and interpret, read and record/take notes appropriately
communicate effectively through essays, report-writing and an independent project by expressing and presenting complex ideas succinctly and clearly in written form, in a coherent and organised manner, and developing a logical, substantiated and sustained argument, with sources referenced appropriately
independently search for, access, critically evaluate and prepare information from a range of sources, including using a range of ICT applications and tools
make informed, reasoned choices and judgements applicable to a wide range of situations based on an understanding of the political, economic and cultural issues addressed by international relations.
3 Student notes
Being able to produce a longer piece of writing, to define the scope of a research question and to research independently are all key attributes that students ought to be able to demonstrate. This independent project is the key opportunity for you to demonstrate these abilities.
The question is framed as general essay question relating to a set of issues and debates in international relations. In answering the question, you need to pay careful attention to the requirements identified.
1.Specify your interpretation of the question
A key task for your project will be to specify the scope of the research and your definition of the question. This is a key skill in any research exercise. Provide an account, early in the Essay, of the way you are interpreting the question.
Key guidance has been given in Block 5 (Week 23), on how to define the scope and identify your interpretation of a broad research question. .
Further key guidance is given in Block 6 (Week 26).
2.Choose a case study (or case studies)
You must focus your project on a particular case study or studies. Cases can vary in how they are defined (e.g. how broad or narrow they are, their time span etc.), but making a choice of case is the main way in which you specify the empirical focus of your project. You will also need to give a brief account of your choice why you have chosen it, its relevance to the question and how you are using the case in relation to the question set.
Key guidance on how to choose and use a case study was given in Block 4 (Week 16). You also practised choosing a case and accounting for your choice in TMA 04 and you should review the feedback you received on that assignment. There is also further work on choosing a case study in relation to this independent project in Block 6 (Weeks 25 and 26) and you should work through that material carefully.
3.Draw from across the module
In your independent project, you need to demonstrate that you understand a range of concepts, ideas and theories drawn from across the module and ways in which they can be used to develop analysis. The empirical, conceptual and theoretical material you draw on will depend on your interpretation of the question you chose.
Key guidance on drawing across the module is given in Chapter 18 The same old melodrama? Continuity and change in international relations in relation to each of the five topic areas and in Block 6 (Week 25).
4.Apply and/or evaluate at least two theoretical approaches in international relations
In your independent project, you will need to show that you can explain key issues arising in international relations associated with your chosen topic by applying and/or critically evaluating at least two of the main theoretical approaches in international relations covered in this module. You can draw from any of the approaches covered in the theoretical reflections chapters and Theory bites material or any of the other major approaches (such as constructivism or game theory) covered in the module. Key guidance on theories and their uses is given in Chapter 19 Analysing international relations: theories, choices and pictures. There is further work on this area in Block 6 (Weeks 25 and 26) and you should work through that material carefully.
You should demonstrate in your independent project that you have carried out research independently on your topic by drawing on non-module material. Draw on the skills you have developed in finding, evaluating and using a variety of sources.
Key guidance on this was provided in Block 2 on finding eJournals (Week 5) and up-to-date information about a subject (Week 8) as well as in Block 3 (Weeks 10 and 11) on searching for additional sources. You have also been asked to incorporate non-module sources in your TMAs and should review feedback given by your tutor. Some further advice is provided in Block 6 (Week 26) and there are a host of Library resources accessible via the module website that you can draw on in this respect.
Your project should demonstrate that you can engage in critical analysis, develop arguments, evaluate perspectives and synthesise a range of ideas, sources and evidence. These are all skills you will have been developing throughout this module. The quality of your analysis and the argument you develop in response to the question will be one of the main criteria determining the mark you receive for this essay
Key guidance can be found on evaluating theories and approaches in the Counterpoint and critique audios in each block and in Chapter 19 Analysing international relations: theories, choices and pictures, providing various frameworks for evaluating theories and approaches. Most importantly, critical analysis should be done by using analytical concepts to good effect in getting to grips with the substance of your Essay In doing this you need to make assumptions clear and reflect on the limitations of different approaches.
7.Identify real-world implications of your analysis
The conclusion of your project should reflect on the real world implications of your analysis for key actors involved in the case you have focused on. Depending on your choice of case, key actors might be key states and governments, particular NGOs or other groups and individuals, or international organisations and agencies. Real-world implications might include conclusions about the viability of particular courses of action or policy aims and strategy, or recommendations for action for particular actors.
Key guidance on this is given in Block 6 (Week 26).
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