Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Special Forces: Theory and Practice
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 9 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar performance  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  H resit The student must submit/take the missing/failed element of assessment/s (exam and/or assessment). Depending on individual circumstances, the resit opportunity will be available in the supplementary (August) examination period or the following academic session for full marks.   40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word assignment in lieu of seminar performance  20%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay if essay element failed  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay if essay element failed  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify and discuss the theoretical foundations of Special Forces in relation to the canon of strategic theory.
2. Outline the relationship with technology and total war in the birth of such units.
3. Evaluate the significance of Special Forces in the Desert War, Burma and Occupied France.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the evolution of the requirement for Special Forces in the Cold War with particular attention to unconventional warfare and limited war.
5. Discuss the role of Special Forces in the Malayan campaign and the Vietnam War and their impact on the overall military strategies as well as effectiveness.
6. Assess the significance of the adoption of a counter-terrorist role in the 1980s for Special Forces and its social impact in the West,
7. Evaluate the impact of Special Forces in humanitarian operations.
8. Critically assess the role of Special Forces in the `War on Terror' with particular reference to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as present day activities.


This module contributes to the Department's provision in the area of Strategic Studies. It provides students with the opportunity to engage with one of the most topical issues in the field of Strategic Studies and acquire an in-depth knowledge of the theory and practice that underpins the utility of Special Forces in contemporary international relations.

Brief description

The module aims to provide students with a good understanding of the evolution of Special Forces from the twentieth century onwards and their theoretical foundations in relation to modern strategy. This module will examine the development of Special Forces from World War II to the Cold War and consider present day applications. It will also allow students to critically engage with the current debates regarding the employment of Special Forces overtly in operational theatres and covertly in undercover missions within civil societies and the implications of such activities for the utility of force in contemporary international relations.


Mapping Special Forces within the Canon of Strategic Theory
Total War and Techno-Warriors: Special Forces and Technology
The SAS and the Desert War 1941-1943: First Principles and Practice
Lessons from the Jungle: The Chindits, Orde Wingate and Operation Thursday
Jedburghs and the SAS in Occupied France 1944
Rediscovering the Need for Special Forces in the Cold War: The Reasons Why
Planning for Unconventional Warfare: The Green Berets
The SAS Reborn? The Malayan Campaign
Behind Enemy Lines: The Green Berets, SOG and the Vietnam War: A New Perspective
New Challenges: Special Forces and Counter-Terrorism in the 1980s
Special Forces in the Falklands Conflict of 1982
Special Forces and Humanitarian Operations: From Somalia to Sierra Leone
Special Forces and the `War on Terror' I: The Afghan Model
Special Forces and the `War on Terror' II: From Baghdad to the London Underground

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct in their 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. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and resources.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of an essay will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project 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 cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Ability to evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 6