Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ethics and Technologies of War
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminar


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500 word essay  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify and explain relationships between ethics, technology and the use of force.
2. Distinguish between, and engage in, deontological and consequentialist modes of ethical reasoning.
3. Explain, analyse and critique the ethical assumptions underpinning military policies and practices.
4. Apply and critique Just War principles on resorting to war and conducting war.
5. Evaluate and generate ideas for responding ethically to the challenges of potential and ongoing wars.
6. Demonstrate empirical knowledge of a range of specific military technologies and practices.

Brief description

This module examines ethical challenges associated with the use of force for political purposes, and it focuses on military technologies. Drawing on historical and contemporary ideas and information, we explore how ethical and/or technological considerations influence strategic and tactical decisions. The module provides you with a timely opportunity to engage with big ideas and high-stakes issues in a dynamic and contested area of scholarship and policymaking. Topics include: moral philosophy and Just War theory, international humanitarian law, self-defence, non-combatant immunity, nuclear weapons, inhumane and 'non-lethal' weapons, military medical ethics, intelligence-gathering and torture, drones and robots, and space-based and cyber war. The overall aim of the module is to provide you with a stronger understanding of the military, political and ethical concerns surrounding these topics and the conceptual and empirical connections between them. Learning activities and assessment tasks are designed to encourage critical thinking, intellectual autonomy and evidence-based argument.


1 From pacifism to just war
2 Resorting to force
3 Non-combatant immunity
4 Nuclear weapons
5 Inhumane weapons
6 Non-lethal weapons
7 Medical and military ethics
8 Intelligence, ethics and counterterrorism
9 Drones and robots
10 Space and cyberspace


The module provides an additional module that will form part of the baskets of five degree schemes: Strategic Studies, Intelligence and Strategic Studies, War Studies, International Relations, and Global Politics. It will be an optional module for students of other degree schemes in the department and the Institute, for example students of International Security Studies, Critical International Relations

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. They will be required not only to acquire information and make academic judgements about it but also to communicate their analytical conclusions clearly and effectively. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Some of the teaching sessions will involve small group discussions in which all students will be required to participate and communicate. Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the academic staff 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 and deciding (under guidance) the topic of their essays. The need to meet deadlines for assessed work will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
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 BIDS and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The seminar discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a case study report, 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; all the forms of assessment will require that the student develop problem-solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: examine issues from differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to problems; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The assignments will require the students to develop their research skills in order to locate appropriate research resources and present the results in a coherent and analytical manner.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of skills that are specific to the subjects that contribute to this module. These skills will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas about ethics, war and technology. Such subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the topic - Evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques - Apply a range of methodologies to complex problems
Team work Team-work skills are an essential component of this module. Students will frequently be required to work together during teaching sessions. Much of the core learning students will do will come through sharing and debating their ideas with their peers.


This module is at CQFW Level 7