Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Making of National Security Policy
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 14 Hours (14 x 1 hour)
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word book review  30%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word report  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word assignment, in lieu of seminar performance  10%
Supplementary Assessment 1 X 2,000 word book review  30%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,500 word report  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss key analytical concepts in the study of the making of national security policy.
2. Apply these analytical concepts to a range of concrete historical and contemporary cases.
3. Compare the utility of these concepts with regard to specific issue areas and country settings.
4. Identify key elements of processes of national security policy-making such as the systemic, domestic and bureaucratic factors.
5. Analyze the complex relationships between such factors in specific instances of policy decisions.
6. Evaluate various policy responses and processes through which they were formulated.
7. Discuss the ways in which alternative policy-decisions could be devised and adopted.
8. Assess the limitations faced by the makers of national security policies.


The Module will contribute to the Department's provision in the area of security studies. Specifically, it will offer a sustained focus on national security as a policy-making process.


1. Introduction to the module: Goals and Objectives
2. What is national security?
3. How to study national security policy-making: Analytical tools and source material
4. Systemic effects on policy making I: The second image reversed
5. Systemic effects on policy making II: Polarity; Pressures; Position
6. Systemic effects on policy making III: Alliances and national security
6. Domestic factors I: Politics and the formulation of national interests
7. Domestic factors II: Institutions - executive; legislature; bureaucracy
8. Domestic factors III: Policy entrepreneurs - industry; think tanks; media
9. Domestic factors IV: Public oversight of policy-making
10. Domestic factors V: Identity, culture and national security policies
11. Bureaucratic politics I: Policy planning and path dependencies
12. Bureaucratic politics II: Budgeting and procurement
13. Bureaucratic politics III: Tools and instruments of policy implementation
14. 'Wild cards': Crises and national security policies

1. Why do states acquire nuclear weapons?
2. Why do states not acquire nuclear weapons?
3. Alliance politics: NATO enlargements
4. Neutrality as a national security policy choice
5. Going to war in Iraq 2003
6. Opposing the decision to go to war in Iraq 2003
7. Seeking accommodation: Argentina and Brazil
8. Procurement of weapons systems

Brief description

The module will explore processes of national security policy-making across a range of issues and countries. It will focus on systemic, domestic, and bureaucratic factors as well as main actors, institutional mechanisms, economic and societal constraints, and knowledge claims which influence the processes of national security policy-making. Students will examine various tools of policy analysis outlined in academic debates about national security polices and will apply these tools in detail when considering a variety of historical and contemporary cases of national security policy-making.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively individually or as a group. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to use these effectively. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. This module will particularly test aural and oral communication skills as it involves assessed seminar performance.
Improving own Learning and Performance One of the goals of the module is to promote self-management. But this will be done within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the ability to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. In addition, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information in academic databases, policy documents databases as well as the web. Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to develop and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two written assignments and preparation for seminar discussions will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar and dissimilar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems
Research skills Students taking the module will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing books and articles of academic nature, policy reports and documents, as well as media and web sources. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials especially as pertains to the report assignment.
Subject Specific Skills The module will provide students with the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that will help them to understand, analyze and evaluate examples and ideas about policy-making. These subject specific skills include: - Collection and understanding of a wide range of data relating to the module - Evaluation of competing perspectives - Demonstration of subject specific research techniques - Application of a range of methodologies to various historical and contemporary national security policy-making cases.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. Sometimes this may involve discussing policy decisions and their alternatives in a small group setting and reporting back to the other groups. Other times this may involve exercises in role playing where smaller groups will be asked to take specific policy perspectives and formulate the most suitable arguments for a given policy solution.


This module is at CQFW Level 6