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
This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia.
It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.
IPE in the Era of Globalisation and Regionalisation
The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.
The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.
The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (for example, Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.
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 significance 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.
The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy
This module focuses on the changing nature of diplomatic practice, together with the range of conceptual tools that seek to explain this international activity. Its focus is contemporary.
It provides a political analysis of new developments such as the public diplomacy, the decline of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the role of regional/multinational organisations and summitry. It also encourages you to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.
Past Futures: Reimagining the Twentieth Century
Explore the social, cultural and political history of the twentieth century.
Rather than re-telling familiar narratives from the starting point of high, we instead examine them by drawing upon the themes of temporality and memory.
As well as exploring the different conception of temporality that informed social and political thought, we will also engage with the ideas of progress and decline that were advanced to conceptualise certain events and phenomena.
Four inter-related themes will be explored:
- Temporality and change
- Social change and memory
- The politics of reproduction
- Consumption, mobility and time
This module is worth 40 credits.
What our students say:
"[My favourite module] was called ‘Past Futures: Reimagining the Twentieth Century’. It looked at the way time works to dictate our understandings of history and how time shapes the way we view things and the interconnectedness between the past, present and future. As someone who is quite interested in topics like World War Two and things that are so culturally relevant today – so issues like Brexit and Coronavirus – you think about how time has shaped how those issues are both articulated and received by the public."
– Christos Mouis, History MA
The Unmasterable Past: Collective Memory in a Global World
Build your understanding of various conceptual approaches to studying modern history.
Following a broadly chronological approach, we shall use specific case studies to investigate and challenge common themes, including memory, identity, and social change.
You will explore the construction and representation of national, political, local, and ethnic identities which are born of (and continue to shape) social change. These collective identities will be analysed in terms of memory and commemoration, considering how the recent past is remembered and memorialised.
By the end of the module, you will understand how the past has contributed to the construction of contemporary identities in Europe and beyond.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Exploring English Identity
Recent debates surrounding Brexit and its aftermath have refocused attention on what it means to be English. But what exactly is ‘Englishness’ and how should we understand it historically?
This module explores questions including:
- What has it meant to feel or be English?
- What has been the relationship of this to ‘Britishness’ and how has that dual relationship played out in practice?
- Is English identity fundamentally rooted in empire and its legacies? If so, how?
- Could English nationalism be a positive, progressive force, or must it be divisive and backward-looking?
- Where historically has Englishness been located? Is it in a language? A monarchy? In a set of ideas? A territory? A set of preferences, or tastes?
Recent historians have been conscious of English identity not as a stable phenomenon ready to be described, but as a historical construct subject to regular change, revision and contestation.
In the course of this module, you will consider ‘English identity’ as a historical phenomenon, exploring the creation of an assumed English national identity that has both developed over time and been imposed retrospectively on an idea of the past.
This module is worth 20 credits.
(Mis)Perceptions of the Other: From Savages and Barbarians to the Exotic and Erotic
This module investigates how western Europeans constructed and categorised peoples as 'other'. We explore this in a wide range of eras and places including (subject to staff availability):
- Views on the Jewish and Islamic faiths in the medieval period
- Notions of Russians between the 16th and 20th centuries
- Representations of different genders across the British Empire, particularly in India
- Views of various societies in the 19th and 20th century, including China and Japan
These 'others' were variously constructed as savages, barbarians, or exotic, and were often sexualised or eroticised. Even when the 'other' was perceived as fabulous, those constructions usually had negative connotations, often being used to justify the actions towards them of those doing the 'othering'.
We shall cover the following key themes:
- conceptualisation and construction of the 'other'
- using the other to justify actions
- civilisation versus barbarism
- decadence vs progress
- East versus West
- Christianity versus paganism
This module is worth 20 credits.
Daily Life in Authoritarian Régimes in the Long Twentieth Century
This module explores how living under authoritarian régimes affected the daily lives of populations.
Topics that may be addressed, dependent on staff availability, include:
- late Tsarist Russia/USSR
- Nazi Germany and the GDR
- Fascist Italy
- Franco’s Spain
- Communist China
- Imperial India
- Mugabe’s Zimbabwe
- Péron’s Argentina
We may also look at Salazar’s Portugal, Vichy France, the states of the Warsaw Pact beyond Germany and the USSR, Putin’s Russia, North Korea, Marcos’s rule of the Philippines, military rule in Myanmar, the military dictatorship in Brazil, Castro’s Cuba, Pinochet’s Chile, and even the USA during McCarthyism, South Africa under Apartheid, and various incarnations of twentieth-century imperial rule.
This module is worth 20 credits.