Not available in 2023/24
DV434      Half Unit
Human Security

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tim Allen


This course is available on the MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic Policy for International Development, MSc in Gender (Rights and Human Rights), MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Political Science (Global Politics) and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Places will be allocated with priority to ID and joint-degree students. If there are more ID and joint-degree students than DV434 can accommodate, these places will be allocated randomly.  Non-ID/Joint Degree students will be allocated to spare places by random selection with the preference given first to those degrees where the regulations permit this option.

Course content

In 1994, the Human Development Report introduced ‘human security’ as a UN concept, equating the term with people rather than territories, and with development rather than arms. The idea of human security has subsequently been elaborated and commitment to it reiterated. For example, General Assembly resolution 66/290 (2012) explains that ‘human security is an approach to assist Member States in identifying and addressing widespread and cross-cutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people.’ It calls for ‘people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people.’

However, the linking of security with a comprehensive view of livelihoods has had effects that were not initially anticipated by many of those who embrace it. Militarization and enforcement have become possible in situations in which formally they were viewed as problematic, and violent acts have been explained as acceptable or necessary.

The course takes the United Nations’ concept of human security as its starting point but addresses it in a wider range of ways than is the norm. The course will draw heavily on previous and ongoing research at LSE, notably research associated with the Justice and Security Research Programme, The Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID), and the Firoz Lalji Institute or Africa (FLIA). Students will be expected to engage critically with this research and contribute to discussions with colleagues currently involved in field research and the writing up of findings.

Much of the material in the course will focus on African examples. It will address wider debates but will also have an orientation towards detailed ethnographic case material. It will emphasize the lived experiences of those actively struggling with aspects of their human security.

Topics are likely to include social responses to epidemics, interpersonal accountability, social protection and healing, moral panics (including witch-cleansing), environmental threats, international criminal law, public authority, populism, and mutuality. These things often look very different when seen from the ground-up, rather than from the perspective of state policy and international relations. There will be a particular emphasis on how human security relates to public authority - understood as forms of collective action beyond the family, involving a degree of consent.

Students interested in taking the course should look at the websites below and read some of the publications.



15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the WT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to undertake a class presentation. Students will also have the opportunity to receive feedback on formative work, in the form of a practice-assessed essay.

Indicative reading

  • Human Development Report 1994
  • Atingo, J. Watching the ICC Judgement of LRA commander Dominic Ongwen with Ugandan victims of enforced marriage
  • Allen, T. (2015). Vigilantes, Witches and Vampires: How Moral Populism Shapes Social Accountability in Northern Uganda, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, 22(3), 360-386.
  • Allen, T., Atingo, J. Atim, D., Ocitti, J., Brown, C., Torre, C.,  Fergus, C.,  Parker, M. (2020). What Happened to Children Who Returned from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda?, Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 33, Issue 4, December 2020, Pages 663–683,
  • Hopwood, J. (2018). Resilient patriarchy: public authority and women's (in)security in Karamoja, Uganda. Disasters.
  • Macdonald, A., & Kerali, R. (2020) Being Normal: Stigmatization of Lord’s Resistance Army Returnees as ‘Moral Experience’ in Post-war Northern Uganda, Journal of Refugee Studies
  • Marijnen, E. (2018). Public Authority and Conservation in Areas of Armed Conflict: Virunga National Park as a ‘State within a State’ in Eastern Congo. Development and Change, 49(3): 790-814.
  • Melissa Parker, Tommy Matthew Hanson, Ahmed Vandi, Lawrence Sao Babawo & Tim Allen (2019) Ebola and Public Authority: Saving Loved Ones in Sierra Leone, Medical Anthropology, 38:5, 440-454, DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2019.1609472
  • Melissa Parker, Hayley MacGregor, Grace Akello. (2020) COVID-19, Public Authority and Enforcement. Medical Anthropology 39:8, pages 666-670.
  • Pendle, N. (2020). Politics, prophets and armed mobilizations: competition and continuity over registers of authority in South Sudan’s conflicts. Journal of Eastern African Studies, (14:1) 43-62.
  • de Waal, A. (2014) Militarizing Global Health. Boston Review.



Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 33

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.