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Emerging Technologies and International Security

Module POL61305

This Module is offered by Department of Governance.

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

POL61305 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This module description is valid from WS 2019/20 to WS 2020/1.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
180 h 45 h 6 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


The so-called emerging technologies and disruptive innovations are currently transforming the international peace and security landscape. They are changing the nature of warfare, playing both soothing and destructive roles in various areas such as politics or national security, and they are also affecting, challenging, and even changing human perceptions of (in)security. Nanotechnology, smart dust technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT systems, quantum computing, distributed ledger technologies, Augmented and Virtual Realities, biotechnology, additive manufacturing, and more are currently disrupting peace and conflict processes. While many recognize the positive transformation they bring to various sectors, there are mounting concerns regarding the threats these technologies pose to international security. Practitioners and scholars are talking more and more about a fourth industrial revolution requiring new policy models and normative solutions. Governance occurs at multiple levels and, whilst in some areas there is no attempt at all to regulate, there is obviously a need for new/ innovative solutions which could be normative, technical, or legal. This is a research and reading-intensive course which has been designed to introduce as well as give a comprehensive overview of the underlying theories and concepts that are relevant to the understanding of the nexus between (in)security and emerging technologies. The sessions will also involve activities aiming at bridging theory and practice. Indeed, various issues such as power, balancing, coercion and deterrence, bargaining, signalling and perception, offence-defence balance and more are highly relevant to the understanding of the (in)security/ emerging technologies nexus and their policy implications. Hence, the seminars will mix theory, technology, actor, and problem-centric approaches where the participants will:
-learn theories and concepts in international security drawing from International Relations in general as well as International Conflict Analysis
-explore the nature and the trajectories of these technologies and their implications in the field of international security
-try to understand the roles groups of actors or individuals play and
-identify the problems or risks related to their impacts at the local, regional, and global levels.

Learning Outcome

On successful completion of this seminar, the students will:
a) have a clear grasp of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings behind (in)security as well as emerging technologies/ disruptive innovations
b) be able to critically assess and analyze these theories and concepts, explain and use them
c) understand the (in)security/ emerging technologies nexus
d) learn the policy aspects of technology in the field of international security
e) be able to bridge theory and practice.
The students are expected to attend the seminars on the following topics: (in)security, emerging technologies and disruptive innovations, human security, hybrid warfare and cyber conflicts, asymmetries in warfare, multipolarity/unipolarity, arms race, networked security, politics of fear with a focus on extremism, counter-insurgency, and policing, urban warfare, necropolitics and remote warfare, human enhancement, biopolitics of security, and posthumanism, the securitization and governance of space, arms transfer and control with a specific focus on AI, nuclear, and nanotechnology, and finally organized crime.


No prerequisites

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

SE 3 Emerging Technologies and International Security
Responsible/Coordination: Büthe, T.
Assistants: Schmid, H.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The format varies and depends on the topic but generally, the sessions will involve the
•Lecture (this will always be included in the sessions)
The seminar leader will give a 45 minute lecture during each session.
•Seminar Discussion
For each session, the seminar leader will include academic articles and sometimes policy papers in the reading list. This list will consist of between 2 and 5 papers. It is expected that you read these texts before each session, especially the top 2 indicated in the required reading section. Required reading forms the basis for class discussions and your participation should reflect that you are familiar with its core arguments to provide comments and critical analysis during the discussion.
Sometimes, the seminar leader includes other resources such as videos, podcasts and blog posts.
•Other activities
Depending on the topic and the goals of the sessions, the seminar participants will be invited to organize, lead or participate in debates, simulations of policy dialogues, brainstorming sessions using interactive online devices, and group work/ projects. These will equip students with skills they will use in their future careers.


Powerpoint, whiteboard, videos, interactive online platforms, exercise portfolio


Baldwin, D. A. (1997). The concept of security. Review of international studies, 23(1), 5-26.
Krahmann, E. (2008). Security: Collective good or commodity?. European journal of international relations, 14(3), 379-404.
Rothschild, E. (1995). What is security?. Daedalus, 124(3), 53-98.
further literature will be announced at the course

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

Regarding the formal evaluations, the following are expected of the students:
•Presentation and Discussion Questions (20%)
For this part of the seminar, supplementary text(s) will be indicated that serve as a basis for individual presentations in class, as well as for deepening the analysis of a specific topic in preparation for writing the seminar’s research paper. One student must:
-give a presentation of the topic discussed in the assigned text(s) and take on the oversight of the ensuing seminar discussion (length of presentation: 10 to 15 minutes)
-provide a one/two-page written hand-out outline of the text(s). It should contain a summary of the text's argument and main points; reflection on concepts used and theoretical framework; coherence of concepts/theory with empirical evidence; relation to other theories, specific and general topics in the context of the seminar. Hard copies should be provided for the group and instructors at the beginning of the presentation. A digital copy should be sent to the instructor prior to the presentation. The outline should not be longer than 2 double-spaced pages. He/she must lead the discussion on the topic that follows the presentation. Leading a discussion requires preparing a few pertinent back-up questions and critical comments in order to facilitate the debate, if necessary.
•Research Paper (80%)
The research paper will allow you to develop a more complete understanding of the specific topical area that you have chosen. Although the way that you decide to convey the information is up to you, remember that these papers will be graded on content, style, grammar, writing ability, and thoroughness of research. The paper should be centred around the topics investigated during the seminar. Paper length is 25 pages and refers to the total number of text pages, excluding all figures, graphics, maps, and references. All papers must be submitted electronically as well as printed and deposited at the office of the seminar leader. The following central elements will be taken into account as evaluation criteria:
-Independent formulation of a concise and scientifically workable research question
-Selection of one/two theoretical approaches as a basis for elaborate explanations of a given policy outcome and/or comparative study,
-independent literature research, a clear argumentation and a well-structured paper centred on the research question. You should research and make critical and selective use of about 15 other relevant secondary scientific sources beyond the ones used in the seminar to support and build your argument. The exact number depends, of course, on the subject, question and literature.
-Topic, research question, theoretical and empirical approach can be discussed in advance with the instructor during student hours. If you would like to use this opportunity, please prepare a one-page draft plan of your seminar paper (topic, potential research questions, theoretical approach, case studies) and send it by e-mail at least one day before the consultation.
-The paper must be analytical, not merely descriptive!

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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