Postgraduate modules

Applicants should note that optional modules are arranged on an annual basis. It is possible that a module may be modified in its content, suspended for a session, or discontinued. New modules may become available in any given year. The final decision on which module options a successful candidate will follow will be made by the Institute in consultation with the candidate before the start of the session. Below is a brief introduction to a selection of our modules.

Conflict & Conflict ResolutionUSArmyAfghanArmy

One of the key challenges of our time is the problem of war, especially civil war, and international responses to it. Civil wars not only affect the soldiers and civilians caught up in them, but have often have wider consequences for the countries and regions they affect: they weaken governance, increase poverty, and can spill over into neighbouring countries, e.g. through refugee flows. The international community has also developed a growing range of instruments to respond to the challenge of civil war, including not only peacekeeping operations, but also efforts to reform political, economic, and security institutions in the affected countries. In this module, we engage with the most recent debates on the complex causes of civil conflict, and explore the diverse responses to conflict, from the brokering of peace agreements to efforts to regulate the trade in so-called conflict commodities. Throughout the module, we draw on topical case studies to explore particular issues and examine them in a real world context. (Photo courtesy of the US Army)

Conflict in the Middle EastElAqsaMosque

The Middle East has recently experienced a wave of potentially transformative revolutions. With the hope for democracy, however, has come the risk of widespread violence and destabilisation. Is the region about to descend into a long, dark 'Arab winter'? This course addresses Middle Eastern conflict as a broad area of inquiry and investigates the political, economic and social conditions from which it arises. It begins with an examination of how the pre-modern heritage of the region, the impact of imperialism, the rise of competing ideologies and the advance of modernisation have shaped contemporary politics and engendered the power struggles of the present day. This is followed by an assessment of the origins and evolution of religious fundamentalism, with a strong focus on political Islam and its many facets. We examine the dynamics of inter-state, intra-state and inter-ethnic conflicts, with a particular focus on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon and the role of foreign intervention. The course also covers all aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Contemporary Diplomacy

When at the Paris Peace Conferences that ended the First World War, English was first used at an international conference, British alongside French diplomats gained recognition as setting the gold standard in the know-how and style of diplomacy world-wide. Since then, and especially since the end of the following world war, since which there has been a great and increasing proliferation of international organisations and international conferences, diplomacy has changed significantly in many ways. This module examines bilateral and multilateral negotiation; foreign policy and diplomatic strategies; negotiation in multilateral institutions e.g. UN Security Council WTO, IMF and environmental regulation; disaster and international emergency diplomacy and the effects of international terrorism on diplomacy. It also ponders the constraints and impact of diplomacy in a period of international instability. The course usually includes a visit to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and input from current and former high ranking diplomats and other guest speakers who are practitioners add to the practical experience of this course.

International Political Economy

The current economic and financial crisis has increased our need to understand the interaction between states and markets. This module introduces students to the latest theoretical tools in International and Comparative Political Economy, applying them to crucial problems in the world economy. Analysis [of] how politics shapes markets and how markets affect politics at both the international and domestic levels illuminates our experiences in international trade, finance and production over the past five decades. We ask: how has the globalisation of trade and finance affected the autonomy of the state? And what role has the state played in changing production structures of advanced industrialised economies? Further topical issues in development, international sanctions, globalisation, social policy and environmental protection area also considered in the light of key debates, for example the effect of globalisation. Students become acquainted with cutting edge research on pressing challenges for policy makers in the 21st century, including how to promote economic development, and whether economic growth necessarily leads to environmental destruction.

International Relations

How can we best think about the challenges facing contemporary statesmen and citizens? This module introduces students to the principal theoretical approaches to international order and to the problems associated with it. Incorporating analysis of contemporary statehood, international law and organizations, globalization, and the use of force, it equips students with the intellectual tools required to confront the security, economic, and environmental challenges that dominate contemporary world affairs.

International Security Studies

This module introduces students to concepts and issues of security since 1945.It surveys different approaches to questions about the nature and objectives of security and its promotion. It critically examines concepts of 'international', 'global' and 'human' security: the nature of various threats to security; and ways in which states and other actors have sought and seek to tackle them. It provides a general understanding of the thinking and concerns about security during the Cold War, the traditional inter-state security agenda and current debates over the meaning and new boundaries of security studies.

Modern Strategy

"Modern Strategy" focuses on the practice of the making and the application of strategy in key wars of the Modern Age, looking at governments, generals and admirals, their thinking, planning, and execution of plans, and on the effects of their strategies. These can only be understood in the context of preparations, recruitment, campaign plans and execution, in what societies, economics, and with what values and culturally embedded beliefs. Reality is at the centre, not the theory. The "Early Modern" wars of the 16th and 17th centuries will be studied briefly with an emphasis on aspects with enduring relevance for the present. The wars of the 18th century - paradigmatic of "limited warfare" is followed by examination of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, supposedly shedding their limitations to become "war in its absolute perfection". Yet the exponential growth of populations, state organisation, technological innovation and the mass production of the means of war, coupled with the spread of bellicose ideologies ensured that even worse was to come: the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, and the two world wars. While inter-state wars generally declined in frequency and lethality after 1945, the Korean War, the Indochina wars, the Arab-Israeli wars, and many others bear testimony to the "long peace's" regional confinement to Europe. Civil Wars - including insurgencies and counterinsurgencies - throughout; since 1945 such intra-state wars that claimed most victims. The wars and strategies of the early 21st century thus stand in long traditions.

The Origins and Causes of War

Scholars in many disciplines have been preoccupied with  society's worst disease: war. Biologists have established that humans are not the only species to fight in organised groups; paleoanthropologists have tried to ascertain when war first occurred and why; psychologists enquire into the minds of those who wage it; anthropologists study culturally diverse attitudes to war; while historians generate and political scientists analyse the greatest data bank on wars and conflicts. Is aggression a biologically programmed part of human nature? Is organised violence an intrinsic part of any human society? Is it a function of how societies are organised, and of their acquired values and ideals? This course draws on literature from all of these disciplines and examines examples drawn from all of human history, to reach conclusions about humanity and war from which all other attempts to contain this disease must start.

The Practice of Strategy in History

This module has as initial assumption that strategy is a very pragmatic undertaking.It will show what which features of strategy endure through the ages and which do not. The course has as its focus real practice by real people, and its consequences. It examines through a series of case studies both the positive and the negative evidence of how strategy is done in the real world.

Strategic Theory

What does "strategy" mean? How has the understanding of the term evolved, and how has it come to mean a comprehensive way to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force? Did "strategies" exist before the Byzantines first defined the term, and was there strategic thinking in the Occident before a key Byzantine text attributed to Leo VI (the Wise) was translated into Western vernaculars? Are there key, recurrent concepts in strategic thinking that have endured despite all the technological, social, economic and political innovations that have occurred since the late Middle Ages? Homing in on the work of key thinkers such as Christine de Pizan, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Jomini, Liddell Hart, Mao Tse Tung, Bernard Brodie and Colin Gray, this module elucidates the great debates about strategy, its political aims and its military means. This module thus complements "Modern Strategy" above in taking a more theoretical and ideational approach to the subject matter of strategic studies.

Terrorism in a Globalising World

This module aims to convey a sense of how terrorism relates to world politics, the individual, and everything in between. It proceeds by examining competing definitions of terrorism and the theoretical and practical implications; past, present and future trends in the history of terrorism; terrorists' motivation and the incentives to choose terrorism as a behaviour; terrorist methods; counter-terrorism options; regional patterns; and historical case studies.

Themes and Issues in Military History and Strategic Studies

Since Antiquity, the methodology of Western authors has been based on the assumption that without the knowledge of the history of wars, no theory of strategy has any credibility. Even more recently, when some writers have neglected this tradition and theorised about strategy on the basis of economic and mathematical formulae, most scholars of strategic studies still regard history as the database for strategic analysis. This is the methodological basis also of this course, which blends military history and strategic studies. Key debates and subjects in both areas are treated in their historical, but also analytical context, including issues of definition, the Classical Heritage, the quest for eternal principles, evolving factors such as the financing of wars, the role of technology in war and in the evolution of strategy, and the impact of religious quarrels and other ideological conflicts, the naval/maritime and the air and nuclear dimensions, insurgencies and counterinsurgency, and other topical issues as they arise.



Advanced Research Methods in Politics and International Relations

This module builds on the preceding one and allows more detailed exploration of certain methods. These include methods such as statistical analysis, within-case and comparative analysis, critical discourse analysis, and content analysis.

Introduction to Research Methods in Politics and International Relations

This module introduces the basics of social science research methodology, as relevant to Politics and International Relations. It has three components, looking at principles of research design, qualitative research methods, and quantitative research methods.

Philosophical Issues in the Social Sciences

This module addresses the fundamental ontological, epistemological, and ethical issues raised by research in social science. It covers such issues as the nature of truth, the relationship between natural science and social science, the Kuhnian and post-Kuhnian interpretations of science, 'value-freedom', relativism, ideal and nonideal theory, and expertise and junk science.

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