Airpower and Modern Conflict
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare.
Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations in recent decades have often been launched with overwhelming air attacks. In line with the understanding that the character of war is changing, however, the utility of ‘strategic’ airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower’s capabilities, air superiority has not always given the technologically superior side in a conflict the edge over opponents.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns. Emphasis will be placed on the role of air power in the post-Cold War security environment, for example, in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns.
This module aims to explore the dynamics of conflict in the modern world. It will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce you to empirical analyses of numerous terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as to theoretical understandings of sub-state violence in the post-9/11 world. This module will enable you to engage with the concepts of resistance and rebellion in international relations and widen understanding of the multiple levels of global security.
Covert Action and Unacknowledged Interventions
This module covers:
- Covert Action
- Propaganda and Influence Operations
- Fake News and the Digital Revolution
- Political Action: Coups, Bribery, and Election Rigging
- Paramilitary Action: Sponsoring Insurgencies
- Assassination and Targeted Killing
- Secrecy in International Relations
- Covert Signalling and Strategy
- Political Management of Covert Action
- Democratic Oversight of Covert Action
- Measuring Success: Evaluating Secret Policy Impact
Disasters, Politics and Society
Disasters are defined by the United Nations as ‘a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope with using its own resources.’ The failure successfully to reconcile human behaviour with environmental threats has, throughout time and in different places, led to multiple disasters.
This module will examine the relationship between natural hazards and human society, how and why disasters happen and how the impact of disasters can be ameliorated. With reference to cases across the globe, there will be a focus on how social life has mitigated, adapted and evolved in the face of environmental hazards. We will examine the social, economic and technological processes that mediate the relationship between human society and the natural world.
Grand Strategy examines how states have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. The module analyses a variety of strategies to understand what drives decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace. It draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide you with a more nuanced understanding of global politics.
Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice
The module introduces and explores the concept of distributive justice on an international and intergenerational basis. Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.
This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module.
The programme for dealing with these themes includes:
- international theories of justice, with particular reference to faminie relief and humanitarian intervention
- intergenerational justice and personal identity
- 'biocentric' theories of justice
- animal rights
- direct political action
The Politics of Celebrity, Sex and 'Alternative' Lifestyles in China
This module will introduce you to developments in Chinese society, media and popular culture. Through the vehicle of 'alternative' lifestyles it will examine the political, social and economic contexts that have given rise to expanded opportunities, and concomitant responses from the state, for personal and political expression.
The module will provide detailed studies of Chinese celebrity, sex, internet culture, self-development, and numerous subcultures through a lens of class, gender, urbanisation and generation change.
Research Methods in International Relations
This module covers:
- Methods and methodology – the logic of qualitative and quantitative research
- Theory, metatheory and methodology – how they relate to each other
- Quantitative data collection – surveys and polls
- Quantitative data analysis – basic statistical analysis
- Qualitative data collection – interviews and documents
- Qualitative data analysis - process tracing, thematic analysis, discourse analysis
- Mixed methodology – pros and cons
- Primary and secondary sources – how to use the library
- Research questions, design and ethics – practical considerations of research
- Academic skills – how to write a literature review and how to plan a dissertation
Terrorism and Insurgencies
This module is designed to acquaint you with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies.
Both threats have become more acute in recent years and much intellectual, military and economic capital has been used up in efforts to contain them. In taking this module, you will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. You will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments.
You will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. You will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. By the end of the module, you will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today's world.
Theories and Concepts in International Relations
The War on Iraq and the US and British invasion of the country in 2003 has led to huge tensions in geopolitics. At the same time, the supposed 'threat' of international terrorism and continuing financial turmoil in the world economy have both brought to the fore the global politics of co-operation and confrontation.
Whilst it might be possible to agree on the signifcance of these events, the explanation and/or understanding of them is dependent on prior theoretical choices. The purpose of this module is to make you aware of the diversity of approaches to international theory.
Within international relations theory there exist highly divergent interpretations and applications of key concepts (for example, power, the state, agency, structure, and world order) as well as contested views about the practical purpose underpinning theories of world politics. The overall aim of the module is to provide you with a solid theoretical and conceptual grounding of this diversity. As a result, it will be possible to recognise not only how international theory informs policy-making and practice but also, perhaps, how truly contested the underlying assumptions of world politics are.
China in International Relations
This module explores China's foreign relations since the establishment of the PRC in 1949 thorough examination of key episodes in China's relations with global and regional powers. Lectures will address the role of ideology (or ideologies) in China's diplomacy, and the meaning of the "national interest" for policy makers in Beijing, and how these concepts help (or do not help) us to understand China's foreign policy behavior throughout the Cold War, and the problems and prospects of "China's rise".
International Political Economy in the Era of Globalisation and Regionalisation
The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy before turning towards globalisation and the main structural changes in the global economy. This includes a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and the related impact on the role of states as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development.
The module will further address the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC before looking at recent formations of resistance to globalisation.
Asia in Transregional Perspective
The mobility of people and the flow of goods and ideas across Asia so familiar to many today have significant historical precedents that have been diminished by heavily nation-and region-centred, and present-minded, understandings. This module acknowledges the relevance of regional rubrics such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, East Asia and so forth, and the many nation-states they subsume.
The module explores, however, the historical connections that existed across regional and national boundaries and their presentday implications. The transregional in this instance is not a methodology but a perspective that offers the scales required to grapple with inter-Asian themes such as migration and diaspora, the circulation of texts, food, and cultural artifacts, and networks of family, politics and trade.
The module asks what the imaginaries are that have shaped Asia. By considering different scales, from the transregional to the local, it offers grounded understandings of mobile, expansive and complex histories. You will read key works that chart transregional imaginaries and thereby frame an understanding of Asia in the context of the world.
Global Political Economy
This module seeks to provide you with an understanding of the complex interaction between states and markets. It uses theory (trade theory, currency theories, theories of integration, theories of economic development) to examine state behaviour in markets.
In addition to offering a theoretical framework, the module also examines state-market relations in specific horizontal issues such as the environment, sovereign debt, and economic integration. It will contextualise the theory and issues in case studies on regional interaction focusing primarily on the SE Asian region.