Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Thoughts of War: Strategic Theory and Thinkers
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2500 Words  50%
Semester Assessment Essay  2500 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2500 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2500 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of war and the strategic employment of military power over a broad chronological period.

Identify and critically discuss terms utilized in strategic discourse about the option of threatening use of force, and the use of force in war.

Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the more significant claims made by recognized theorists for the strengths and limitations of types of strategy and types of military instruments (land, sea, air, deterrence, guerrilla operations).

Account for the influence of technological changes in the favour/disfavour with which the strategic theorists studied have held specific instruments of strategy and approaches to waging war.

Brief description

The module aims to give students an overview of the development of strategic thought from the classic theorists of former times to the present day; and to prepare students to situate contemporary issues surrounding the threat of, and actual use of, force in statecraft and international relations. Each of the seminars is self-standing, addressing approaches to the use of force in the context of historical time and place for the writer(s); taken together, they lead students to identify and reflect on common threads and themes that emerge from historical writings on strategy and retain currency into the modern and contemporary eras.


The module examines the evolution of strategic thought through study of a selection from the canon of strategic literature, from Sun Tzu and Clausewitz to the era of nuclear weapons, wars of national liberation and low-intensity conflicts.


The module begins with the study of Sun Tzu'r The Art of War (c. 400 BC), moves on to Carl von Clausewitz'r On War (1832) and proceeds to 20th C. works including B. H. Liddell Hart'r Strategy: The Indirect Approach, Bernard Brodie'r Strategy in the Missile Age, and Mao Tse-Tung'r On Guerrilla War. It draws out common threads and themes from each case-study, so that students will, by its end, have considered, through the set-texts, such key dimensions of strategy and warfare as: the ends-means relationship (the policy-strategy match); patterns for the civil-military interface; the specificities and principles of ground warfare (including attrition vs. manoeuvre, unity of command, concentration of force); the leverage offered by naval power; the capabilities of air power; strategy and deterrence in the nuclear age; the principles and conduct of guerrilla/LIC insurgent and counter-insurgent force.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Adaptability and resilience Students will improve their adaptability and resilience skills through independent work. The submission of written work 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 seminar contributions and presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
Co-ordinating with others Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars, and will be encouraged to collaborate when engaged on similar case studies.
Creative 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 contributions will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
Critical and analytical thinking Students will develop their critical and analytical thinking skills throughout the module. They will be expected to conduct close and critical readings of the sources assigned for the seminars. In seminar discussions they will challenge the positions taken by the authors of those sources and by fellow students, as well as articulate and defend their own positions on relevant issues.
Digital capability 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.
Professional 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 about aims and objectives.
Real world sense Students taking the module will develop key employability skills, such as speaking to small and large groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statements of others, as well as expressing themselves clearly in writing, including writing for non-specialist audiences. Independent research for essays will lead students to engage with non-academic as well as conventional academic literature , helping them to develop a sense of what expectations in a policy-making environment are.
Reflection The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the module 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 case study report.
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 • Evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.


This module is at CQFW Level 7