Module Identifier IPM0920  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Professor Martin S Alexander  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   22 Hours. 1 x 2 hour seminar per week  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essays: 2 x 2,500 words (50% each)  100%
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:

Brief description

The module examines the evolution of strategic thought through study of a selection from the canon of strategic literature, from Sun Tzu and Clausewitz to the era of nuclear weapons, wars of national liberation and low-intensity conflicts.


This is the Research Training mode of the core module in the MScEcon in Strategic Studies, to fulfil ESRC Postgraduate Training Guidelines. It aims to give students an overview of the development of strategic thought from the classic theorists of former times to the present day; and to prepare students to participate in an informed way in debates around contemporary issues concerning the threat of, and actual use of, force in statecraft and international relations. Each of the seminars is self-standing, addressing approaches to the use of force in the context of historical time and place for the writer(s); taken together, the seminars lead students to identify and reflect on common threads and themes that emerge from historical writings on strategy and retain currency into the modern and contemporary eras.


The module begins with the study of Sun Tzu'r The Art of War (c. 400 BC), moves on to Carl von Clausewitz'r On War (1832) and proceeds to 20th C. works including B. H. Liddell Hart'r Strategy: The Indirect Approach, Bernard Brodie'r Strategy in the Missile Age, and Mao Tse-Tung'r On Guerrilla War.   It draws out common threads and themes from each case-study, so that students will, by its end, have considered, through the set-texts, such key dimensions of strategy and warfare as: the ends-means relationship (the policy-strategy match); patterns for the civil-military interface; the specificities and principles of ground warfare (including attrition vs. manoeuvre, unity of command, concentration of force); the leverage offered by naval power; the capabilities of air power; strategy and deterrence in the nuclear age; the principles and conduct of guerrilla/LIC insurgent and counter-insurgent force.

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. Preparing for and writing-up essays will encourage students to practice independent research skills including data retrieval, selection, assembly and organization, writing, IT and time management.

10 ECTS Credits

Reading Lists

Carl Von Clausewitz (eds Michael E Howard and Peter Paret) (1976) On War Princeton University Press
Mao Tse-Tung (introduced and translated by Samuel B Griffith) On Guerilla Warfare University of Illios Press
Sun Tzu The Art of War (introduced and translated by Samuel B Griffith) Oxford University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 7