Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
British Counterinsurgency Warfare in the Twentieth Century
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 11 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1  (1 x 2,500 - 3,000 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  (1 x 2,500 - 3,000 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
1. Display a sophisticated understanding of the evolution of debates on British COIN.
2. Apply strategic concepts to historical (and contemporary) policy and strategic problems.
3. Discuss critically the manner in which armed force has been applied by the British state since 1899.
4. Apply research skills to the field of Military History/ Strategic Studies.
5. Understand the language of Military History/ COIN/ Strategic Studies in the context of British history since 1899.
6. Understand the evolution of the civil-military dynamic in British Imperial/ military history since 1899.


This module contributes to the Department's provision in the area of Strategic Studies, Military and International History. It provides students with the opportunity to engage with the latest historiographical developments in the fields of British military, political and colonial history and gain an in-depth knowledge of the most pressing debates on the evolution of COIN within the broader discipline of strategic studies and contemporary international relations.

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with a good understanding of the evolution of British COIN since the Second Boer War (1899-1902) descended into a bitter guerilla conflict characterised by savagery and attrition. This module will focus on the evolution of debates in military history, British political history, and the history of the British Empire and de-colonisation. The module will examine the most pressing issues that faced soldiers and policy makers historically (as well as those lessons which have a continued contemporary relevance. The module will allow students to critically engage with these areas that dominate the application of military force in the twentieth century.


1. What is Counterinsurgency warfare? How has it evolved historically?
2. The British way in warfare: the evolution of a military culture
3. The Boer War (1899-1902) and its legacy: A dirty end to `Splendid Isolation'
4. The Anglo-Irish War, 1919-21
5. Learning irregular warfare? The inter-war Empire, Wingate and World War Two
6. Post-war insurgencies: Palestine, Kenya, Cyprus
7. The model Counterinsurgency? Malaya, 1948-60
8. A continuing global role: Aden, Borneo, Dhofar, peacekeeping
9. Soldiers as policemen? Northern Ireland, 1969-98
10. COIN and the evolution of the British armed forces in the twentieth century

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will review data concerning the application of military force in international relations in order to critically examine the underlying epistemological issues.
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. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion.
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 essays 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 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 BIDS 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; engage with theory; 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 critically evaluate competing perspectives * Demonstrate subject specific research techniques * Apply a range of methodologies to complex strategic problems
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 7