Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Nato: the Making and Breaking of Alliances
Academic Year
Semester 1
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 1 x 2,500 word written report  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word written report  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Critically evaluate the principal conceptual debates surrounding security cooperation
2. Analyze the dynamics of NATO’s establishment and evolution through the Cold War
3. Discuss the impact of the end of the Cold War on NATO’s core rationale
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of enlargement on NATO
5. Examine and critically analyse NATO’s post-Cold war military operations
6. Critically evaluate NATO’s efforts to reform its military capabilities
7. Analyze the role of NATO in tackling so called ‘emerging security challenges’
8. Critically re-evaluate current conceptualizations of NATO


The module builds upon long-standing departmental interests in security, strategy and European politics, and the research interests of the module convener. It will serve as an optional Part Two module for students. In particular it will provide an additional option of interest to students studying security studies, strategic studies, European politics, military history, international politics, and intelligence.

Brief description

The module examines debates about the origins, evolution and future of NATO with a particular emphasis on the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras. The central theme is the making and breaking of alliances. It starts with an exploration of the concepts and theories of alliances and security communities and to what extent these help us to explain the establishment and transformation of NATO. It explores the role of politics, economics and military affairs in alliances. The majority of the module explores the attempts by NATO to transform itself in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall and the terrorist attacks of 9/11; looking in particular at enlargement and partnerships, capabilities, and military operations. Students are encouraged to critically reflect on how alliances are studied and why they emerge, collapse and/or endure using the contemporary international security environment to provide fresh insights, perspectives and debates.


• Theories and Concepts
• Origins & Cold War
• Enlargement and Partnerships
• Operations
• Threats and Capabilities

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will engage with statistics through an examination of defence spending data.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. 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 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. 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. This is facilitated by group-role play based on teams operating within and beyond the seminar environment.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convener and 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 report and essay topics. Group work is integral to the seminars and provides opportunities for students to reflect individually and collectively on their performance. The need to contribute to the group discussions in seminars and to meet an assessment deadlines will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
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 Lexus-Nexus, Primo, Google Scholar etc). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the AberLearn Blackboard. Finally, they will learn to navigate through NATO’s online presence.
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students’ verbal and presentation and team-working skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a report, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards students' portfolio of transferable skills. In particular, report writing is an essential transferable skill contributing to their employability profile.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay and a report will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar discussion points will also enable students 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 Students will be required to identify appropriate sources of both primary and secondary source information and to use them appropriately, understanding their relevant strengths and weaknesses. In particular, research for their policy reports will require careful gathering of data and information, the judicious use of such material in support of a particular set of recommendations. Using and analysing primary sources material will provide a particular set of information literacy 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 • Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small group role-playing activities where students will be obliged to prepare, present and discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module learning experience.


This module is at CQFW Level 6