Module Identifier IP33220  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Alastair J Finlan  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Professor Nicholas J Wheeler  
Course delivery Lecture   16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  50%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  50%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

- understand competing definitions of humanitarian intervention
- critically analyse conflicting views on the ethics of using force to end human rights emergencies
knowledge of the legal context
- an ability to relate conceptual issues to specific empirical cases
- an understanding of the political context of contemporary debates over sovereignty and intervention.
- an ability to relate the conceptual ideas discussed on the module to specific case studies.

Brief description

This module provides an analytical foundation for the study of humanitarian intervention in world politics. It develops a theoretical framework which is then applied to specific case studies.


This module aims to provide students with an undergraduate level training in the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention. The question of how the international community should respond when states commit gross and systematic human rights violation poses a fundamental challenge at the beginning of the 21st century. This module examines the political, legal, strategic and ethical issues involved in the use of force to stop such atrocities. Students explore how the political, legal, ethical and strategic considerations discussed in the earlier part of the module apply to specific cases of intervention.


After discussing competing theoretical approaches to the subject focusing on the legal, ethical and political dilemmas raised by armed intervention to protect human rights, the module focuses on specific case studies of intervention in the 1990s:
The cases selected for examination are the Western interventions in Iraq in 1991-1992; the UN/US intervention in Somalia in the period 1992-1995; the inaction over the Rwandan genocide in 1994; NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999. The module concludes by reflecting on the future for humanitarian intervention after September 11th.

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills that will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate the case study material. Throughout the course, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as basic numeric skills and self-management skills. In lectures students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills and will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team-work and problem solving. Essay writing will encourage students to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills, and the examination will test these skills under time constraint conditions.

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
N J Wheeler Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society 2002. Oxford University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6