PO2COS-Contemporary Strategy

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Mr Ofer Fridman

Email: o.fridman@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module is an introduction to the nexus between war and strategy. It complements the module 'War and Peace in International Relations, 1800-2000' to the demands and challenges of strategic and security analysis. After exploring important dimensions of warfare, each at the centre of an extensive epistemological debate, it explains how strategy and strategies fit into the diverse constructs concerning warfare.

This module is designed to enable students to apply the historical knowledge and ideas from the module 'War and Peace Since 1800', to a set of major strategic problem areas. It will introduce students to fundamental dimensions of thinking about war and their nexus with strategy in general and a choice of strategies in particular.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • recognize persisting issues in diverse historical contexts
  • specify and analyse leading issues of enduring concern to defence professionals
  • recognize and evaluate critically different schools of thought about strategic and security issues
  • organize material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the students' effectiveness in group situations, with some analytical procedures carried out as part of a team. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:
The following content is indicative and may be subject to change:
This module is an introduction to war and contemporary strategic studies. It introduces students to some of the basic debates in war studies: what is war (definitions), what are common causes of wars, when (according to international law) can one resort to war (ius ad bellum), who fights in wars and against whom can one legitimately fight, how can one fight legitimately (ius in bello), how are wars ended, and do they always achieve a lasting peace? Against this background, it introduces students to the role of strategy: how do dimensions of strategy such as Tactics, Operational, Strategic, Grand strategic, offensive & defensive; direct and indirect approaches; asymmetric warfare, lawful and outlawed weapons, nuclear weapons and cyberwarfare hang together with these many different factors.

Global context:
The module addresses the global security environment and security issues specific to individual regions and countries.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A combination of lectures and classes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8 3
Seminars 20 2
Guided independent study 100 67
Total hours by term 128.00 70.00 2.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one essay of 4000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography).

Visiting students will follow the same assessments but only those enrolled for the full year will sit the examination. Those visiting students who are here for Autumn and Spring terms only but wish to gain full credits will also write a further 4000 word essay in place of the examination, to be submitted by the first day of the summer term. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in the Autumn term will submit one 4000 word essay due in at the end of term or beginning of the spring term (in consultation with the module convenor).

Formative assessment methods:
They will also give an oral seminar presentation, with prepared handouts and/or powerpoints.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: War: What is it good for?: The role of conflict in civilisation, from primates to robots - Ian Morris (Profile Books, 2015) - rrp £10.68.
    The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present - Beatrice Heuser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) - rrp £22.99
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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