Teaching

I have an established teaching profile with experience of designing, convening and contributing to specialist and introductory modules at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study in a range of areas within International Security, International Relations, Political Science, Foreign Policy, and Research Methods. I currently convene UEA’s MA in International Security, and act as course convener for modules on International Security at undergraduate and postgraduate level, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism, and War Games. I also contribute to a range of team taught modules including on International Relations Theory and Global Politics.

Module handbooks for courses I taught during academic year 2014/2015 are available here for Terrorism and Counterterrorism (third year undergraduate); International Security (second year undergraduate); and International Security (MA).

Previous modules I have convened or taught include: Terrorism: Critical Perspectives (MA Level), Contemporary Security (UG: L2) Governance: From State Formation to Global Governance (MA Level); The Research Process; Conceptual Issues in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (MA Level); Critical Security Studies (MA Level); Researching Politics (Level 3) [with options on Contemporary Terrorism and the War on Terror]; Anarchy and Order (Level 2); War and Peace in the Nuclear Age (Level 1); The Empire Strikes Back: US Security Policy in the Post-Cold War Era (UG: L2); Strategic Studies (UG: L2); Power (UG: L2); Understanding Global Politics (UG: L1); Introduction to War and Society (UG: L1); Independent Study in International Relations: The Politics of Terror (UG: L3/PGTM); Theory and Explanation in International Relations (UG: L3); Contemporary Issues in World Politics (UG: L1); Introduction to International Relations (UG: L1); International Organisation (UG: L3); International Security (UG: L2); and, Political Analysis (UG: L2).

I also have a track record of supervising PhD students on a range of topics relating to my research, including: cyber-terrorism, the Lockerbie Bombing, far right extremism, countering the financing of terrorism, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Nigerian counter-terrorism, and counter-terrorism within the EU. Please feel free to contact me with expressions of interest in postgraduate study.

Teaching and Learning Initiatives

Initiatives I have used in my teaching include launching Speedback at UEA and previously at Swansea University. Speedback is a classroom based simulated marking exercise. Students bring draft versions of their coursework to the session for rapid assessment by myself and small group based discussion with their peers. These are then broadened out to a full group conversation on the coursework, including common strengths and areas for improvement. The rationale for Speedback is twofold: 1) It provides an opportunity for additional formative assessment; and, 2) It helps to demystify the formal assessment process by demonstrating what I look for and ‘do’ when marking coursework.

I also regularly employ student-designed study guides on my upper level modules as an alternative seminar exercise to presentations, debates, role playing activities, and so forth. Here, students design and distribute an introduction to their seminar topic which comprises around three short excerpts they have selected from sources on the reading list, as well as a question for further discussion. The presenter then ‘walks’ the class through their guide, explaining their choice of excerpts and contextualising these within the broader literature.

Module descriptions

Here are descriptions of some of the modules I have previously taught at UEA, Swansea and beyond.

International Security and Terrorism
Violent conflict and the use of force in world politics remain salient issues in contemporary International Relations. While some have theorised that the advent of globalisation and spread of liberal democracy would make the use of force and violent conflict less relevant to the world, war and conflict have remained an integral part of the international system, as well as forming an obstacle to providing stability and security for many states.
The module will offer an examination of the ways in which violent conflict and the use of force are managed in world politics. The module surveys a variety of perspectives on the causes of war and peace in order to examine the roots of violent conflicts and security problems in the present day. Contemporary problems with civil war, economic, and identity issues are investigated. Additionally, the responses of the international community to violent conflict including terrorism will be explored, looking broadly at the contested notion of the “Just War”. Drawing upon historical and contemporary examples of war and violent conflict, the module assesses the contributions of different actors and processes to the achievement of regional and world peace and security.

International Security
This module examines the study of security in the international system, from its roots in classical political theory and Cold War strategic studies through to the development of a more broadly focused field today. The module critically analyses contemporary security issues in context applying theory to the practical consideration of current events in world politics. Students will consider different theoretical perspectives each week and will apply a range of theories to each topic to examine different approaches and gain an in-depth understanding of a range of different ways of thinking and doing security.

Terrorism: Critical Perspectives
Although the term terrorism goes back to the French revolution, it was hardly employed at all until the 1970s. Contrast this with today when terrorism, it seems, is everywhere we look: in foreign policy decisions, military interventions, homeland security measures, legal frameworks, newspaper headlines, speeches and sermons, films and video games, and, of course, university modules such as this. In this module, we engage in a critical exploration of contemporary terrorism, counter-terrorism, and the academic field of terrorism studies. We begin by thinking through the status of our knowledge about terrorism: where this comes from, how this is constructed, by whom, and for what purposes. We then turn to debates over the character of terrorist violence, inquiring into its core characteristics and cultural production. Different perspectives on the causes, types, and threat of non-state terrorism are then introduced, before concluding sessions examining state terrorism, counter-terrorism practices, and the relationships between terrorism and gender.

Contemporary Security
This module introduces students to contemporary developments in the study of International Security. Following a brief introduction to the emergence of security studies as a subdiscipline of International Relations the course is organised around the critical analysis of competing conceptual approaches. Throughout the module we will explore major contemporary debates and developments in this field, sketching their key arguments, assumptions, value and limits. Case study examples are offered to provide students with an opportunity to assess the utility of these approaches in ‘real world’ empirical contexts. The course concludes by pointing to ongoing debates, outstanding questions, and the future prospects of contemporary security studies.

Governance
In recent years, some theorists have begun to talk of the ‘hollowing out of the state’ as tasks normally performed by national governments have been passed to a wide range of new actors.  These have included the private and financial sectors but also changing international organizations such as the European Union and United Nations. In addition, new forms of government, often known as governance, have emerged which change the way in which rules and institutions are implemented.  What have been the reasons behind these changes?  Are they inevitable? To what extent can we identify struggles of power in this process towards governance? How democratic are these new contemporary forms of government?
These are amongst the key questions addressed in this module, which will introduce students to the study of governance from the local to national and international levels. Students will become familiar with key theories, issues and debates concerning state formation, the evolution of government, and the contemporary transformation of government towards governance. At the end of the module, students should be able to understand the historical, and time-bound, nature of polities, to apply a wide range of theories of political change to the empirical (historical) material; to evaluate the appropriateness of theories and concepts in relation to the empirical data under investigation; and to recognize the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of large-scale transformations. Students will have been challenged to explain the differences and similarities of polities in synchronic and diachronic analyses; and to develop categorizations for comparative analysis.

Researching Politics: Contemporary Terrorism
Few issues in contemporary world politics excite as much attention as terrorist violence. This RP option is your opportunity to evaluate the nature and significance of terrorism today. Key issues to be explored include the following. First, conceptual debates over terrorism itself: what constitutes terrorism, and why has agreement on this been so difficult for academics and policy-makers? Second, transformations in terrorism: has the significance, tactics, organisation, motives or ambitions of terrorist groups changed over time, and if so why might this be? Third, the causes of terrorism: what is it that drives individuals to visit violence and death upon others (and, increasingly, themselves), in pursuit of particular ends? Should we focus on economic, political, cultural, psychological or social dynamics? Fourth, the threat of terrorist violence: how significant is this, does this vary by country or region, and what can be done to mitigate it? Fifth, normative questions: can terrorist violence ever be justified, if so how, and by whom? Sixth, issues of desistance: why do terrorist campaigns end, and how? And, seventh, the relationship between terrorism and other societal actors or processes, including – most obviously – the media.

Researching Politics: The George W. Bush administration’s War on Terror
It is now ten years since the attacks of 11 September 2001. In that time we have witnessed military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; extraordinary renditions of suspected terrorists; the internment and incarceration of suspects without charge and trial; new legislative frameworks and political powers introduced to counter terrorism and its causes; vast global expenditures on counter-terrorism; torture and its photographing at Abu Ghraib; the assassination of Osama bin Laden; and many other developments besides. This RP topic is your opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of this complex and pervasive security paradigm. In so doing, you will consider the war on terrorism in historical context – how does this relate to alternative counter-terrorism campaigns and strategies; evaluate the efficacy and legitimacy of its constituent dimensions; and reflect on its consequences across the globe.

The Research Process
This module offers an applied introduction to the research process for students within the Department of Political and Cultural Studies. The module facilitates practical learning of the nuts and bolts of research. Firstly, we will discover the hidden treasures in the library and receive a thorough introduction to its information services. Subsequently, we turn our attention to the development of strong essay-writing skills, a key trick of the university trade. An important part of successful essay-writing is correct referencing and the avoidance of plagiarism: this will be our third focus.
There will be several opportunities throughout this module for students to obtain feedback on their ongoing research projects from their lecturers and peers. Before the submission of Autumn papers, we will have a workshop in which we provide each other with useful tips and constructive criticisms of our essays. After the Christmas break, we concentrate on the dissertation. After an introductory session, in which we acquaint ourselves with the format and rules for writing a solid dissertation, we will listen to the experiences of those who have already gone through the process of writing substantial pieces of research. Critical lessons can be learnt here. We will also learn how to effectively present our work making use of PowerPoint. The module concludes with a three day symposium – New Perspectives on Politics and International Relations. In this, you will present an outline of your dissertation outline to other members of the postgraduate community and staff from within the Department.

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