Challenges of Human Security

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
23 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The module will explore how disease, disaster poverty and conflict affect society and the state, and how states and societies can respond and be resilient. We will look at the economic, social, psychological and political implications and responses to disease, disaster, conflict and poverty from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

We also examine how states build capacity, and the importance of state -societal, and interpersonal trust. In doing so, we also look at the changing definitions of human security.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To develop students knowledge and understanding of the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the study of disease, disaster, conflict and poverty.

  • To provide the opportunity for students to learn about existing research on disease, disaster, conflict and poverty and offer an overview of the key concepts along with an introduction to competing theories on human security and state capacity.

  • To develop and promote students` general analytical skills and capacities to undertake subsequent academic study and for employment, personal development and participation.

  • To maintain an intellectual environment that is exciting and challenging, fostering students` capacities for study and dialogue and maintaining high standards of teaching and learning.

  • To enhance students` skills in teamwork, technical skills, research techniques, critical thinking and writing.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Show evidence of their skills in teamwork, technical presentations, research techniques, writing and critical thinking.

  2. Demonstrate in-depth understanding of how disease, disaster, conflict and poverty impact state and society.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to understand and analyse the main findings of disaster, disease, conflict and poverty research.

  4. Develop an understanding of sources of information for studying disease, disaster, conflict and poverty from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

  5. Develop knowledge of the main theoretical and empirical concepts in human security, disease, disaster, economic development, political stability, state and societal capacity and state and societal trust.

  6. Evaluate both orally and in writing developments, issues and debates in human security, disease, disaster, conflict, poverty, and state capacity.

Module information

Syllabus Information

  • Human Security What do we mean by human security? This week is mostly an introductory week, but the seminar will explore the changing conceptions of security and what role disease and disaster play in security frameworks.

  • Infectious diseases What are the big diseases that threaten humanity? What are the ways in infectious diseases stretch the state? This week provides a summary of the various human diseases that undermine development in countries, with particular focus on AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, known as the big three. Neglected tropical diseases will also be explored as will water washed, water borne and water based diseases. This week investigates the effects of epidemic health crises on development and the state. Other viral infectious diseases such as COVID-19, SARS and Ebola also introduced.

  • Natural disasters and adverse environments The seminar explains the major environmental issues that states face, such as extreme weather patterns, poor soil quality, unpredictable rainfall, adverse terrain, natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, and fires) and resource abundance or scarcity. This week explores the effects of these environmental challenges on development and the state.

  • Global contributors to disease and disaster This week examines the global contributors to disease and disaster such as climate change and looks more specifically at the challenges posed by increased movement of people. Overall, this week provides an overview of the exigencies brought about by globalization to open markets, goods and services, leaving countries more vulnerable to disease and disaster.

  • Poverty vulnerabilities This week looks at the impact of poverty and conflict in creating disease vulnerabilities. The week explains why low-income countries and those who live in poverty are particularly vulnerable to disease and disaster.

  • Conflict vulnerabilities This week looks at the impact of conflict on disease and disaster. We also look at complex humanitarian emergencies. In this week, the role of displacement, violent-non state actors and failed states is examined. In doing so we try to understand why there are more deaths in a conflict due to disease than due to deaths in battle.

  • Complex humanitarian emergencies and food insecurity. This week looks at complex humanitarian emergencies in more depth.  We look at the relationship between displacement, famine, poverty and disease.

  • Gender insecurity, overpopulation, and conflict drivers. This week looks at the impact of gender inequality on fertility rates, disease and disaster vulnerabilities, poverty and conflict.

  • Disease, disaster, poverty, crime and personal insecurity. This week explores the drivers of personal insecurity—such as physical violence, crime and domestic violence and psychological well-being.  This week explores the trauma and mental health concerns during and in the aftermath of disease and disaster, as well as the impacts on society.  The week’s discussion focuses on the challenges faced by the public on a personal level, from grief, to loss of work or loss of one’s home, to disruptions in access to health care and medications for chronic conditions and uncertainty regarding employment and school for one’s children.  It also looks at other drivers of domestic violence and crime.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • 2 hours per week.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Take home test     80% 
Coursework   PPT Slides     20% 

Additional coursework information

Students will have the opportunity to undertake formative assessment.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Natasha Lindstaedt, email: nezrow@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Natasha Lindstaedt
Natasha Lindstaedt nezrow@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator Nicole Hicks govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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