Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Warfare in the 21st Century
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Policy report (risks assessment and responses)​  (3,000 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Written Essay  (3,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Policy report (risks assessment and responses)​  (3,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Written Essay  (3,000 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Understand the characteristics and evolution of contemporary warfare (land, sea, air, space).

2. Identify strategic challenges in the context of the changing nature of contemporary warfare.

3. Discuss critically the new trends in the application of force in international relations.

4. Identify and discuss critically the challenges faced by modern militaries.

5. Identify new directions in contemporary warfare.

6. Critically assess contemporary risks to global stability.

7. Outline recommendations to address risks to global stability.

8. Acquire the necessary skills to write policy reports.

Brief description

This module delivers an historically informed analysis of the evolution of modern warfare into the 21st century. The module explores various aspects of war and warfare in their contemporary expressions across the domains of land, sea, air, space and cyber. It aims to provide students with a good understanding of the latest strategic trends in areas such as: inter- and intra-state conflict, low-intensity warfare, asymmetric and hybrid warfare, nuclear proliferation, the evolution of the ‘War on Terror’, and a potential return to great power competition. This module will examine the most pressing strategic issues facing the world today and allow students to critically engage with the issues that are dominating the global strategic agenda with regard to the use of military force in international relations.


​. Concepts of war, warfare, and strategy
. Types of war and principles of warfare
. The role of nuclear weapons
. Technology and changing character of war
. The ‘War on Terror’ & Asymmetrical threats
. New directions in 21st Century warfare

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 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. 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. Fellow students will be encouraged to question the paper-giver 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 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 a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
Information Technology tudents 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 Web of Science and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning 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. The policy report component of the assessments will lead students to engage with non-academic sources and they will develop a sense of what expectations in a policy-making environment are. 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.
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. 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 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 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. The written assignments will enable students to develop and demonstrate their critical and analytical thinking skills at length and in depth by adopting a position on a question and developing it through the presentation of evidence and logical argument.
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.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine given topic through team work. In addition, students will have to team up to work on presentation delivered in front of the class.


This module is at CQFW Level 7