Course Programme for the Master's degree in International Security Studies

Students spend the first year at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, where teaching is focused on the main issues concerning security, including hard and soft security, technological security, environmental security, and human security. These and other germane topics are dealt with through different disciplinary approaches, including International Relations, International Law, Political Philosophy, Political Economy, Statistics, Criminal, Constitutional, Environmental and Comparative Law.

The second year is based at the School of International Studies in Trento, where students have a closer look at the specific security challenges modern societies are faced with, such as migration, energy issues, environmental degradation, financial flows, armed and other violent conflicts. During the second year, students are encouraged to spend a period abroad for research purposes, to prepare their dissertation, or pursue an internship. MISS students can apply for a place on one of the numerous exchange agreements and mobility programmes the School of International Studies and the University of Trento have with prestigious academic institutions all over the world.

For course content please see:

Attendance to compulsory courses is mandatory. In case of absence, students should, whenever possible, inform the lecturer beforehand via email. Any absence should be duly justified. In order to obtain the credits, students are expected to follow at least 80% of the classes. The board will be informed in case any student exceeds the 20% threshold of absence and will make the necessary determinations. These may include a forfeiture of the possibility to sit the final exam of the course

 

First year - Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa)

Mandatory courses

Courses Credits (ECTS)

The Role of Universal and Regional Organizations in Promoting Peace and Security

The course aims to introduce students to the collective security system of the UN, regional security systems (with particular attention to the situations in Europe, Africa and Latin America) and how these universal and regional systems interact.

To this end, the course firstly plans to reconstruct the duties of States in terms of prevention and resolution of international disputes, both from a standpoint of the duty to resolve disputes by peaceful means and from a standpoint of the ban on the recourse to force (and exceptions). Attention will later focus on the UN system, and in particular on Chapters VI, VII and VIII of the UN Charter as well as on the role of the various UN bodies in the matter of maintaining and promoting peace and international security.

The course will then address the issue of the different components of regional systems tasked with maintaining and promoting regional peace and security, concluding with a detailed analysis of possible synergies and collaborations between the UN system and regional systems in the matter of maintaining and promoting peace and international security.

At the end of the course the students will have gained the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Understand the operation system of security mechanisms at universal and regional level and their possible interactions;
  2. Learn about the new, non-traditional forms of threat to peace and international security;
  3. Identify the best and most appropriate tool to reduce risk and manage the crisis, depending on the type of threat to peace and international security;
  4. Interpret and apply the relevant agreements also in light of international jurisprudence;
  5. Prepare brief written analyses of situations of crisis/threat to security and proposals for overcoming these situations in compliance with the international obligations of the States.

Students will be required to work independently to apply the concepts learned, through the presentation of case studies too, during which their analytical and communication skills will also be assessed.

6

Genealogies and Aporias of Security

The course aims to offer the broadest possible, differentiated philosophical framework of the concepts of security and human security, from both genealogical and definitional points of view.
This framing will take place against the philosophical and epistemological backdrop of modern and contemporary sciences and technologies. A special introductory module is dedicated to the main theoretical-political categories that will be covered in the course, with reference to their historical genesises.

The course seeks to develop a path that, from the origins of the lexicon regarding technology and security methods within the philosophical debate of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, arrives at the deconstruction and critical analysis of the most recent technologies and developments (cybernetics, bionics and robotics) as regards the two concepts (security and Human Security) and the semantic constellations surrounding them. As a result, the main contemporary innovations concerning human empowerment (Optimierung, Perfectionierung, Human Enhancement,) and the so-called "warrior machines" (drones, robotic warriors) will be outlined and discussed.

At the end of the course, it is expected that the students will have gained the following skills and knowledge:

  1. Understand and reconstruct the origins and import of the main security and Human Security implications in light of the fundamental concepts of epistemologies and methodologies developed over the last three centuries.
  2. Learn and discuss the meanings of Perfectionierung, Optimierung, Human Enhancement, and identify the scope of these concepts appropriately in contemporary war and security situations.
  3. Identify and investigate the ideologies, philosophies and master narratives underlying the technological innovations in security and empowerment in accordance with an original sorting grid.
  4. Use critical learning and be able to put the content of the course 'into practice' on specific case studies chosen on the basis of historical-conceptual and practical topics; in light of the task, a considered and recursive combination of historical-conceptual, interpretative, deconstructive methodologies will have to be achieved.

Develop the skills to judge and interpret the results reached whether on an individual or group level, through a continuous and controlled process of elaboration, sharing, internal and also external dissemination, as the level of learning gradually increases, through research seminars devised by the students themselves.

6

Armed Conflicts and International Law

The course aims to equip students with mastery of the institutions of law of armed conflicts (international humanitarian law) and - as far as is relevant - international human rights law and international criminal law. Students will be required to apply independently the concepts learned through the presentation of case studies too, in which their analytical and communication skills will also be assessed.

After an introductory lecture on the historical development of humanitarian law, attention will focus on identifying its scope in situations of international and internal conflict. Sessions on the status of fighters and prisoners of war and on the conduction of military operations in conflict zones will follow. Specific lectures will also be devoted to issues of international responsibility of States and individuals for violations of humanitarian law and to the legal regulation of humanitarian operations in support of a civilian population. Finally, the question of the application of humanitarian law, along with its interaction with international human rights law, will be examined.

At the end of the course students must: a) possess the practical and theoretical tools to legally define a certain conflict situation and understand which rules of law apply; b) know how to identify the relevant legal framework aimed at ensuring certain categories of protected persons are respected; c) know the legal consequences tied to violations of the law of war and other international legislation in force in situations of armed conflict; d) understand the ways in which different branches of international law interact with international humanitarian law.

6

Security Studies: Concepts, Methods, and Issue areas

The course plans to include security doctrines and policies - after first observing how the concept of security has been explored, defined, redefined and studied, with particular attention to the debate ongoing since the mid-1980s. The course recounts the evolution of security studies from a variety of theoretical angles that, starting from strategic studies and the concept of national security, have led to a re-focusing around the security of the individual, of society and of transnational and global-scale phenomena.

In the second half, after identifying some emerging fields in the literature, the course will concentrate on certain issue areas and trends linked to the challenges that characterise conflict and post-conflict studies.

The course is designed to encourage active forms of learning: it will therefore be taught through a mix of lectures and seminars. Lectures will correspond to the introduction of new concepts, topics and theoretical perspectives; discussion in class will be encouraged to lead on from the reference literature and recommended reading is given weekly.

The main educational objectives of the course consist of developing:

  • understanding of the main theoretical perspectives that characterise security studies
  • knowledge and understanding of the academic literature in this field
  • familiarity with the main research methods developed in this field
  • ability to analyse contemporary security policies and practices
  • ability to express and defend ideas and reasoning in public
  • ability to write a research paper
7

Probability, Certainty and Security in Economics: Concepts and Methods

The course provides students with a description of the concepts of risk and uncertainty and their importance in economic decision-making processes. The first part of the course is dedicated to illustrating the microeconomic approach to analysing decisions in conditions of risk and uncertainty. Particular attention is paid to the regulatory and descriptive implications of rational choice theory, in reference to choices in conditions of strategic interaction as well.

In the second part of the course, the role of risk and uncertainty is analysed from a macroeconomic point of view. Particular attention is given to the workings of financial markets and the monetary system, by comparing different economic paradigms and discussing their impact on relevant economic policies.

At the end of the course, students will be able to understand - in both theoretical and practical terms - the role of risk and risk management in economic decision-making processes and its role within the institutions that make these decisions.

8

Transnational Global Governance

The course aims to tackle security issues of a transnational nature, taking into account the rise in actors operating outside the scope of a state. These actors often have a hybrid nature and tend to adopt innovative and multilevel governance arrangements. Even for security issues, transnational governance is characterised by the involvement of formal and informal actors and by the creation of mechanisms, processes and forms of management that require careful analysis. The course plans to further examine some particularly important policy areas.

The course aims to provide the analytical tools for understanding the challenges of global governance in terms of actors, mechanisms and forms of governance. At the end, students will have developed a knowledge of the main concepts and terms employed in this field of study and policy, having developed critical analysis skills with respect to the main theoretical and policy-making debates. 

6

Statistical reasoning

The course intends to provide a systematic introduction to the basics of statistical thinking, language, and techniques with examples of real-world applications of statistics. Topics discussed include displaying, describing and summarizing data, basic probability including random variables and probability distributions, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests, linear regression. At the end of the course students will be able to: a. develop a critical understanding of the use of statistics in contemporary social science, b. think of ways to extract the most information using the most common basic statistical methods. c. critically evaluate research from a statistical perspective.

3

English from B2 to B2 plus

More information available at page Foreign Languages

3

 

One elective course to be chosen from

Courses Crediti (CFU)

European Security: Politics and Policies

The course aims to study the concept of security's multidimensional nature in the European Union. Over the last decade, the EU has faced crises of various kinds, some ongoing, that put its security and, in certain cases, its very existence at risk. From the economic and financial crisis to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, from the emergence and rise of populist parties to the possible 'disintegration' of the Union brought on by Brexit, from the migration crisis to the success of illiberal democracies in Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has experienced a troubled decade of 'polycrisis'.

The course plans to analyse the impact of these different crises - social, economic, political, military, cultural - on the Union's security policies. The course will therefore attempt to respond to the following questions, among others: what consequences could Brexit and the growing politicisation of the European Union have on Community security policies? Which institutions and actors are the most important in the various areas of security policies, and how has their role changed over the last ten years?

At the end of the course, the students will have developed the conceptual baggage and analytical tools to understand and analyse EU security policies independently - whether in theoretical or applied terms. 

6

Ethics of Security

The course aims to present the profile and role of ethics in relation to emergency management, whether the emergency results from a natural catastrophe or from the behaviour and actions carried out by man in the social, political, legal and military context, at national and transnational level. The basic ethical values to be specifically discussed include: responsibility, justice, fairness, trust, care, respect. What kind of ethical dialogue appears possible in the context of national and transnational security issues? What fundamental values and rights are at stake and need to be critically rethought? What criteria should inspire behaviour and methods of action in specific contexts and how can these criteria be justified? The first part of the course will concentrate on these topics and questions.

The second part will tackle the relationship between ethics and international relations, focusing on the analysis of a State's sovereign power in relation to peace and war. Particular attention will be paid to reflections on the "just war" and to contemporary debate concerning the concept of "civilian power”, which is connected to a different interpretation of foreign policy and international cooperation, as an alternative format to military power.

At the end of the course students are expected to be capable of:

  1. setting up an ethical assessment (with social, political and legal dimensions) regarding different possible "emergency" situations;
  2. identifying and critically assessing the main ethical values and fundamental rights involved in the appraisal of an emergency situation;
  3. critically analysing the profiles of a so-called "just war" and the characteristics of the "civilian power" concept in an international political and legal context;
  4. using communicative and reasoning skills on case studies concerning security topics in at least one foreign language;
  5. suggesting, applying and assessing ethical-political theories in relation to emerging or envisaged contexts causing concern in terms of security.
6

 

Free choice courses (total 9 Credits)

Students can choose free choice courses in any of the disciplinary areas, without restrictions, chosen from the units listed in the catalogue of courses for the first and second year, or at masters level, at the UniTrento and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
Free choice units must be consistent with the student's overall educational plan.The courses listed in the table below are normally considered consistent. Furthermore, the annual catalogue of courses shows options that are automatically approved. If a student intends to choose a different option, approval is needed from the relevant institution.

Courses Credits (ECTS)

Security and Constitutions. Addressing Security from a Constitutional Law Perspective

3

Global Food Security

3

International Criminal Law

3

A Practical Introduction to cybersecurity

3

Gender and Security

3

Middle East and North Africa: transformations and challenges

3

Terrorism and International Law

3

European security governance between continuity and adaptation

3

 

Second year - School of International Studies (Trento)

Compulsory units

Courses Credits (ECTS)

The Use of Force in International Politics

The course plans to:

  • strengthen and expand previous knowledge about political dynamics and international security, examining the history of the use of armed force in international relations;
  • equip students with the skills for analysing and interpreting the dynamics and strategies of a threat, use and control of armed force in international politics;
  • develop understanding and problem-solving skills to apply the knowledge gained to real contexts and scenarios;
  • formulate a critical judgment on the use of coercive tools in the resolution of international disputes;
  • equip students with the skills to perform an analysis independently of current and future international events involving the threat and use of armed force, and to present their results effectively
6

Test in a second language at level B2 (German, French, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic)

More information available at page Foreign Languages

6

English test at level C1

More information available at page Foreign Languages.

3

Information technology test

More information available at Test Center - ECDL certification for MISS page (in Italian only)

3

 

One course to be chosen from

Courses Credits (ECTS)

Democratizing Security​

6

Global Migration and Security

The course aims to equip students with specific knowledge regarding the phenomenon of global migration from legal as well as economic points of view.

With regard to the first point, focus will be on the protection of migrants in international law, taking into consideration the legal status of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as that of so-called economic migrants. This will allow students to understand what the challenges are in relation to the legal regulation of the global migration phenomenon and how this impacts on issues concerning the topic of security.

With regard to the second point, the economic point of view, the basic reasons underlying migration flows will be analysed, that is to say the differing demographic changes and levels of development that characterise various parts of the world. The economic effects of these flows in the countries of origin and in the countries where migrants are located will be examined, along with the implications of economic policies and regulation of the phenomenon.

The course will consist of lectures and practical exercises, which will allow students not only to strengthen and expand their previous knowledge of the subject, but also to apply this knowledge, in an interdisciplinary way (legal and economic), through the presentation and class discussion of case studies. The chosen teaching methods, interdisciplinary approach and course content will enable students to gain specific skills in managing complexity and to consider the ethical and social consequences of choices made within the regulation of migration policies. Furthermore, active participation in the course will enable students to learn to communicate and reason their thoughts clearly and articulately. Lastly, the critical abilities acquired in relation to the theme of migrations (which is both highly complex and multifaceted), will help ensure that students can continue their studies in an increasingly informed and independent way. 

6

 

Two courses to be chosen from

Courses Credits (ECTS)

Natural Resources and Energy Security

  • Learn the fundamental concepts inherent in the economic analysis of how natural and energy resources are exploited;
  • Understand the impact of the national and international legal constraints concerning the exploitation of natural and energy resources, including reference to the debate on a possible relationship between access to resources and conflicts;
  • Acquire the empirical skills to describe and analyse the evolution of national and international markets of energy and natural resources, as well as the international trade structure for these products;
  • Identify the main problems in the current system (in relation to energy security and the supply of natural resources) by critically analysing the legal and economic policies implemented to counter them;
  • Analyse the relationships found in the food-energy-climate nexus at European and international levels, also in light of the provisions that affect these relationships.

At the end of the course students will be able to i) independently analyse the interaction between economic and legal aspects associated with the exploitation of energy and natural resources and their international trade, at national and supranational level; ii) understand and describe critically the main characteristics and trends of the relevant markets.

6

Global Markets and Security Issues

The course plans to:

  • strengthen and expand previous knowledge about political dynamics and international security, examining the history of the use of armed force in international relations;
  • equip students with the skills for analysing and interpreting the dynamics and strategies of a threat, use and control of armed force in international politics;
  • develop understanding and problem-solving skills to apply the knowledge gained to real contexts and scenarios;
  • formulate a critical judgment on the use of coercive tools in the resolution of international disputes;
  • equip students with the skills to perform an analysis independently of current and future international events involving the threat and use of armed force, and to present their results effectively.
6

International Cooperation, Development and Security

The course tackles the relationship between development and security from a historical perspective. It is planned that students will:

  • learn the tools to reflect on the relationship between development and security in international politics
  • know the criticisms of the concept of development and will learn the tools to evaluate their weight
  • learn about the role of non-governmental organisations and civil society in the area of development and human security
  • know how to determine which tools and which bilateral and multilateral policies are available in order to intervene in situations of humanitarian emergency and which of these would guarantee the best results, based partially on a historical and long-term assessment and varied according to the regional context in question
  • develop the ability to gauge the significance of historical and cultural heritage in the success of development and security policies
  • improve awareness of the limitations when applying abstract and generic models to situations that are complex and historically determined
  • improve problem solving skills thanks to the ability to make long-term assessments, which take into account successes and failures of past policies and the significance of cultural factors.
  • explore the literature on the functions performed by international civil society organisations in the field of development and security; learn how to recognise the role of the main actors that interact with civil society organisations and the difficulties typically encountered in carrying out these functions.
  • be familiar with the empirical literature and main theories on the relationship between democracy and international civil society, with particular reference to the issue of security.
6

 

One elective course

Courses Credits (ECTS)

Academic writing

Course objectives: 1) To introduce the reader expectation approach to writing through five interactive online modules. More specifically, students will be introduced to the concepts of action, agency, separations, theme and stress position; 2) To develop an awareness of how these concepts contribute to effective writing and to develop an ability to recognise effective use (or not) of this approach in written texts, academic and non-academic; 3) To develop students' ability to use the reader expectation approach to writing to produce clear, effective prose in English. Learning outcomes: On completion of all components of the course, students will be able to apply to their own written production the notions, concepts and skills acquired, with a particular focus on clarity, coherence and thematic/logical progression. More specifically students will : 1) have achieved an understanding of textual cohesion through collaborative writing tasks; 2) have achieved an understanding of how arguments are constructed, developed and supported through evidence; 3) have achieved an understanding of how information can be organised to best effect in a text; 4) have developed an ability to write concise prose; 5) be able to present, develop/argue a position, and draw meaningful conclusions, in written English, through persuasive lines of reasoning; 6) be able to edit their own written production by employing techniques to ensure the intended message is effectively communicated to the reader, limiting instances of potential misunderstanding.

3

Internship related to the preparation of the thesis

3

Italian Language level A2 (compulsory for non Italian students)

More information available at page Foreign Languages

3

 

Free coiche course (total 6 credits)

Students can choose free choice courses in any of the disciplinary areas, without restrictions, chosen from the units listed in the catalogue of courses for the first and second year, or at masters level, at the UniTrento and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
​Free choice units must be consistent with the student's overall educational plan.The courses listed in the table below are normally considered consistent. Furthermore, the annual catalogue of courses shows options that are automatically approved. If a student intends to choose a different option, approval is needed from the relevant institution.

Courses Credits (ECTS)

Minority Rights

6

China and the World from the Cold War Years to the Global Era (1949-2020)

6

People, Politics and the Planet

6

Peace and Conflict Studies: Theory and Methods

6

Labour Rights in the Global Economy

6

Minorities, Regionalism and Borders in Europe

6

Science, Technology and Global Affairs

6

Final exam

Activity Credits (ECTS)

Final exam

15
Aggiornato il
22 June 2020