Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 6 Hours (6 x 1 hour: 2 face to face and 4 online)
Lecture 14 Hours (14 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x on-line learning log/forum participation  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   (1.5 hour exam)  Students will choose one pre-seen essay question to respond to  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word assignment in lieu of participation  20%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay, if essay element failed  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay in lieu of exam, if exam element failed  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. identify and critically discuss a range of implications of new technology for international politics around three broad themes of civil society, global governance and security;
2. identify and critically analyse how norms of Internet technology interact with political norms;
3. demonstrate an understanding of some basic technological concepts of relevance to political debates about the Internet;
4. critically analyse the key debates around online protest, Internet governance and cyber conflict;
5. demonstrate an understanding of the distinctions between cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwar and understand how these are problematic; and
6. make an informed distinction between politically determined and technologically determined aspects of our use of the Internet.

Brief description

This module employs an innovative use of technology for teaching designed to immerse the students in the very technologies we will be studying and analyzing. Concepts of civil society, governance and security in International Relations will be examined and debated in the context of Internet and mobile technology. How these concepts are being challenged, undermined and/or reinforced by new technology is an area of growing academic debate and understanding how political actors respond to and engage with these debates will be increasingly important to understanding international affairs.

The module begins by introducing some key concepts useful in the analysis of how we approach both information and technology. Looking at the ways in which principles of Internet technology have been embedded in search engines provides insight into a whole range of normative assumptions that will help to contextualise the remaining modules. Global governance of the Internet (Part Two) takes place within a unique and unconventional model of governing global resources. We look here at the ways that states perceive the private sector as having the capacity to both undermine and uphold sovereign cyber boundaries and we engage with the debates for and against greater political control of global Internet governance. In Part Three, we move on to discuss political protest online. This has been a particular focus of debates about expectations of the Internet over the past four years. Is the Internet ‘democratising’ or is it a tool for state surveillance? Is there a distinction to be made between the Iranian Green movement, Wikilieaks, Anonymous and Kony2012? If so, what is it and what are the implications for how we understand cyber crime, political activism and the rights of civil society? The final module gives us an opportunity to look at state security in the context of Internet technology. What is cyberwar and is it on the horizon? Is cyberterrorism real or is it a Hollywood construct? What kind of vulnerabilities do states face in the Information Age? And what are the implications for global security post-Stuxnet?


Lecture 1: Introduction

Part One: Understanding Information Online
Lecture 2: The Global Village vs the Filter Bubble
Seminar 1: Introductory Concepts and Online Forum briefing. (F2F)
Lecture 3: The Politics of Search Engines
Lecture 4: Standards vs Rules: The ‘Wikipedia Way’
Seminar 2: The Politics of Search Engines (Online)

Part Two: Global Governance of the Internet
Lecture 5: Why Govern the Internet?
Lecture 6: Who Controls the Internet?
Seminar 3: Politics in Global Internet Governance (Online)
Lecture 7: Facebook’s Foreign Policy: Private Sector Control

Part Three: Sovereignty and Anarchy in Online Protest
Lecture 8: Politics and Technology in the Arab Spring
Seminar 4. Cyber-Utopianism and Cyber Realism in the Arab Spring Debates (F2F)
Lecture 9: Wikileaks, Anonymous and the State
Lecture 10: The Politics of Cyber Crime
Seminar 5: Wikileaks and the Surveillance of the State (Online)

Part Four: Cyber Security: Conflict and War in the Information Age
Lecture 11: State Vulnerabilities in Cyber Space
Lecture 12: Estonia and Stuxnet: Implications for International Relations
Seminar 6: State Cooperation and Cyber Conflict (Online)
Lecture 13: Cyber Terrorism: Does it Exist?
Lecture 14: Wrap up and Revision


Increasingly, international politics is understood to be engaged with, influenced by and impacting upon dimensions of new technology such as the Internet. Power, conflict, sovereignty, global economics, international law and many more aspects of state relations are in need of reassessment in the context of the cyber dimension. This is an emerging field of study. This course will introduce undergraduate students to a range of issues that are currently driving academic debates in this area, enabling them to develop an understanding of some of the complex and nuanced ways in which international politics and new technology intersect.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Numerical data collection will not be a central component of this module.
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. 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 consider only that which is relevant to the topic. Online and face to face seminars will be run in groups where discussion and debate will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Fellow students will be encouraged to question one another, to critique their approach or to suggest areas for the development of the chosen topic; in turn each will discuss the contributions and ideas of the other.
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 topic. The online forum will provide an excellent opportunity for students to assess their own work against that of others – particularly through analysis of the ‘post of the week’ – an example of highly graded student work that will be made available to them with annotation explaining why it was successful. The need to participate in an online forum and to meet an essay deadline will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Both the content and the teaching methods of this course help to promote advanced learning in information technology. Students will be constantly engaging with a range of online technologies, some of which may be new to them. In these cases, they will be provided with tutorial videos to assist their learning. Students will be expected to submit their work online and receive their feedback online. The module makes considerable use of Blackboard and introduces the students to a number of learning tools readily available to them through this platform.
Personal Development and Career planning The content of the class is itself a growing field of study, political analysis and commercial expansion. Understanding better the many, many ways that politics, technology and the private sector interact will introduce them to a range of potential careers they may never have considered. More specifically, improving their online communication skills will be an important element of personal development and career planning for students in this module. Exposure to alternative employment models online will broaden their conception of their possible future career goals. The on and off-line discussions 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 the online forum posts 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; consider extreme cases; reason logically; consider similar cases; look for patterns and divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student’s ability to work alone can be undertaken.
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 the online forum posts will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
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 political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion both face to face and online where students will be expected to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such debates and discussions are a vital component of the module. The online forum is also an effective means of community building and students will be responsible as a team for building their discussion board into a useful resource for themselves and their classmates.


This module is at CQFW Level 6