Module Identifier IPM1030  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Alastair J Finlan  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Pauline Ewan  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   18 Hours (1 x 2 hour seminars per week)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   4 Hours (4 x 1 hour tutorials)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essays: 2 x 2,500 words (40% each)  80%
Semester Assessment 1 x team presentation  20%
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

By the end of this module students will:

- have been introduced to the key issues and ideas in contemporary strategic thought and will have evaluated the various positions in key debates
- have appropriate familiarity with the terms utilized in contemporary strategic discourse and be competent in their use
- be able to apply these ideas to a range of policy issues and strategic problems
- have described and analysed the course and outcomes of a modern conflict and presented the results accordingly

Brief description

The module examines contemporary strategic thought and practice. It focuses on a number of key theoretical debates (such as the transformation of war, nuclear strategy and `post-modern? terrorism) and relates them to contemporary policy issues (such as the West's use of air power, the future of nuclear weapons and counter-terorism policy). It concludes with an examination of the conduct of contemporary war.


This is the second core module in the MscEcon in Strategic Studies. It aims to give students an understanding of contemporary strategic thought; to allow students to apply this to a range of contemporary problems/policy issues; and to examine contemporary military conflict through a series of team presentations. Each of the seminar topics is self-standing, addressing a particular issue or theory; taken together, the seminars lead students to identify and reflect on common threads and themes which inform contemporary strategic discourse. The presentations will lead to an understanding and comparison of modern conflicts.


The module begins with a discussion of the nature of contemporary war, specifically the transformation of war thesis. It then addresses in a series of seminars key areas of contemporary strategic thought, including: the use of force; nuclear strategy; arms control and disarmament; proliferation; terrorism; and intervention. Each seminar includes a consideration of the `state of the art? in terms of theory and its application to a particular policy problem. Although each seminar is stand-alone, together they give a thorough understanding of the contemporary state of the discipline and the manner in which theory relates to policy debates. The module concludes with a series of team presentations on contemporary conflicts. This is supported by tutorials with the module convenor which deal with both the presentational and research elements of the task.

Transferable skills

Throughout the module students will practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self-management skills. In seminars, students will enhance listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as oral presentational skills. Essay writing will encourage students to practice independent research skills including data retrieval, assembly and organization, writing, IT and time management. The presentation tests team work and communication skills.

Reading Lists

Barry Buzan and Eric Herring The Arms Dynamic in World Politics
Colin McInnes Spectator Sport War: The West and Contemporary Conflict
Colin Gray Modern Strategy


This module is at CQFW Level 7