Credit points


Campus offering

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10 cp from 100-level units in Politics and International Relations or International Development Studies

Teaching organisation

36 hours of lectures and tutorials

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit explores the changing nature of international relations with respect to the issues of security, terrorism and human rights. Reviewing various conceptualizations of security, terrorism and foundational elements of human rights, this unit introduces students to the ramifications of security measures for human rights. Security concerns and measures differ between autocracies, mature democracies and countries in different stages of democratic reform. The unit aims to equip the student with the analytical tools to scrutinising the controversial correlations between security and human rights in varying contexts, both at the national and international levels. Furthermore, by covering the engagement of the different actors, e.g., the UN, national states and non-state actors, and their partnerships and/or discords, the students will become familiar with the roles of different parties in protecting or violating human rights. The aim of this unit is to identify the proposed contradictions between security and human rights and to investigate the appropriate mechanisms and strategies to address these contradictions.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1- Describe the various conceptualisations of the notion of security and the origins, history and philosophical foundations of human rights (GA5)  

LO2 - Critically examine the prioritisation of national security over international human rights standards (GA1, GA4) 

LO3 - Apply the concepts, theories and methods used in security studies to an analysis of contemporary issue related to the potential conflict between human rights and national security (GA6) 

LO4 - Demonstrate the capacity to gather, analyse and advocate for ethical solutions to a global human rights and security crisis (GA1, GA4, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Main themes and notions of security and human rights 
  • Security: dimensions and interlinks 
  • Human rights: foundations, developments and perspectives  
  • Terrorism: evolution and history of terrorism 
  • Religious radicalism  
  • Human security: a paradigm shift 
  • R2P: shift from state to people’s security 
  • Refugees and human security 
  • Sanctions and its impacts on humanitarian assistance 
  • Peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit offers two formal ways of learning and teaching. Lectures are organised based on case-based learning, a format that involves deep learning. Students explore real world challenges and problems, a process that requires them to demonstrate their investigative, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Case-based learning requires learning specific theories and concepts that will complement the conceptual tools and theoretical knowledge critical to analysing divergent approaches to religion-politics relationships.  

Tutorials for this unit provide opportunities for active learning. Students will engage in activities including reading, writing, interrogating ideas, exploring case studies and making presentations. These activities, as well as promoting analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of lecture content, are designed to build skills appropriate to second year study in Politics and International Relations. Furthermore, readings will deepen students’ knowledge of the various conceptualisations of religion and politics relationships. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are specifically designed to enable students to demonstrate their clear understanding of the complexities of correlations between security, terrorism and human rights in varying contexts. There is no “right” answer to enquiry in the field of political science: one can approach a question or topic in several legitimate ways. Students are required to provide a coherent, substantiated, structured and persuasive answer to the specific question asked in each assignment. This unit is assessed based on two written essays that develop skills in reading, critical analysis and clear written communication. The first is in the form of an OpEd and the second in the form of an overview essay. The third assessment is based in seminars and tutorials where students are required to prepare an oral presentation that will trigger further discussion and debate by fellow students and participate in the debate following other students’ presentations. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Opinion editorial requires students to write an 800 word opinion editorial to develop a position on an ongoing issue related to terrorism, security and human rights. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6 

Final essay: requires students to demonstrate thorough understanding of the subject matter, critical analysis of the relevant literature, and to incorporate and synthesise relevant conceptual/theoretical ideas.  


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4 GA6, GA8 

Tutorial presentation and participation in debate following another presentation activity 


LO1, LO2, LO4  

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Badescu, C. G. (2010). Humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect: security and human rights. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. 

Bellamy, A. J. (2008a). Fighting terror: ethical dilemmas. New York: Zed Books. 

Bellamy, A. J. (2008b). Security and the war on terror. New York: Routledge. 

Brysk, A., & Shafir, G. (2007). National insecurity and human rights: democracies debate counterterrorism. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press. 

Burke, A., Lee-Koo, K., & McDonald, M. (2014). Ethics and Global Security: a cosmopolitan approach. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 

Goodhart, M. E. (2016). Human rights: politics and practice (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Jackson, R., & Sinclair, S. J. (2012). Contemporary debates on terrorism. New York: Routledge. 

Lahoud, N. (2010). The Jihadis' path to self-destruction. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Loader, I., & Walker, N. (2007). Civilizing security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Peoples, C., & Vaughan-Williams, N. (2015). Critical security studies: an introduction. New York: Routledge. 

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