PO2COS-Contemporary Strategy

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Kenton White

Email: kenton.white@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module is an introduction to the nexus between war and strategy. It complements the module PO2WAP ‘War and Peace since 1800’. This module addresses the demands and challenges of strategic and security analysis in the modern period. After exploring some early examples of strategy, this module will introduce you to a series of a series of contemporary problems and how they stand in the field of modern strategy.  Aside from asking the question “What can military force do for you?”, the module asks “Why is strategy so difficult?”

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:

  1. What Is Strategy?

  2. The Theory And Application Of Strategy

  3. The Practice Of Strategy

  4. Deterrence

  5. Strategy And Technology

  6. Different Types Of War

  7. Five Geographies Of War

  8. Civil-Military Relations

  9. State And Non-State Strategy

  10. Military Operations Other Than War

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 10
Seminars 20
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

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

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One two-hour examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

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 Spring term will submit one 4000 word essay, to be submitted by the first day of the summer term.

Formative assessment methods:

There will be two formative assessments. Firstly, students will also complete an oral seminar presentation, with prepared handouts and/or PowerPoints on a specific seminar question.

Secondly, students will prepare a one-page essay plan for discussion with the group/convenor. This plan will then form the basis for the 4,000-word essay.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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 within the specified resubmission period, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

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

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1. Required text books: There are no specific costs associated with the module but students should have regular access to the following texts, either through the library or otherwise:

      (1) Baylis, J., 2016. Strategy in the contemporary world. Oxford University Press.

      (2) Jordan, D., Kiras, J.D., Lonsdale, D.J., Speller, I., Tuck, C. and Walton, C.D., 2016. Understanding modern warfare. Cambridge University Press2)

    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: 10 September 2018


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