PIM65-Strategic Studies

Module Provider: Graduate Institute for Politics and International Studies
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Mr Patrick Finnegan

Email: p.finnegan@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This Strategic Studies module focuses on strategy, its theoretical grounding but also its real world applications. This module will consist of an examination of the core principles of strategic theory throughout history, but importantly it will also attempt to map these theories into the current environment. Student will attempt to test the validity of strategic theory and principles in a number of contexts and assess whether previous teachings still maintain their validity. This module will provide you with the tools needed to engage actively and constructively with the contemporary strategic environment. Although drawing upon historical sources where necessary, this module aims to equip you with the tools to understand a variety of issues active today.


This module will cover the core areas of traditional strategic studies such as the long-standing environments of Land, Sea and Air, but it will also address newer topics such as Space and Cyber strategic thinking and practice. Also present in this module will be an examination of inter- and intra-state conflict, its causes and consequences, but also an investigation of how strategy and the context within which it is formulated and conducted has changed. This module will also highlight the similarities and differences in strategic thinking within the state and non-state context.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Intended learning outcomes:

  1. Students will be guided to a position where they understand what strategic studies is and how it is relevant to a variety of contexts, not just that of war and conflict. 

  2. Following this, students will develop the skills needed to evaluate strategic decision making and practice both in the past and contemporary world.

  3. Students will be encourage to develop their ability to analysis and disseminate information important to well informed, applicable and effective strategic thinking.

  4. These skills and abilities will all be underpinned by a focus on developing your ability to critically assess the information and examples provided throughout the module.

  5. This will then allow you to formulate your own understandings and solutions to previous and on-going issues active today. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

  • To achieve mastery of the key ideas and theories used in strategic analysis and debate.

  • To achieve familiarity with the major works of strategy theory

  • To develop a coherent critical approach to strategic questions, taking due account of political, ethical, and other relevant factors

  • To be able to tackle new strategic topics, using the intellectual material mastered, and reach balanced critical judgments on them

Additional outcomes:

  • Achievement of career-widening skills

  • Introduction to new career possibilities

Outline content:

  1. Explore and analyse the role of theory in strategy.

  2. Assess the main works of strategic theory. This section includes the general theories, both ancient and modern, as well as works which focus on particular subsets of Strategic Studies. The latter includes works dealing with irregular warfare, nuclear strategy, information warfare, sea power etc.

  3. Identify the main concepts and themes of Strategic Studies, as well as assess the value of theory to strategic practice

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The course is taught by two-hour seminars. The seminars will comprise structured discussions around presentations by the course convenor and by students.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 4
Seminars 20 2
Guided independent study 87 87
Total hours by term 111.00 89.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Project output other than dissertation 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  1. 3,500 word essay, Autumn Term, Week 12. 50%

  2. Research plan, Spring Term, week 1. 10%

  3. Minsub, Spring Term, Week 11. 40%

Formative assessment methods:

Students giving presentations will receive feedback from the module convenor and via seminar discussion. The seminar discussions provide important opportunities for students to test their views and receive tutor and peer feedback. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the module convenor’s office hours to request further one-to-one feedback on their presentations, seminar contributions, and essay plans.

Students will receive regular feedback during normal sessions on their reported progress as well as in week 6 of Autumn term where they will present an essay plan for their essay.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Where necessary resit assessments will be provided for students who have not achieved sufficiently high marks to pass.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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