Module Identifier IP31520  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Alastair J Finlan  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Lecture   14 x 1 hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   7 x 1 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 3000 word essays  100%
Supplementary Assessment F resit If module is running in resit year (the next academic session following failure) the student must follow module deadlines - submitting assessments and/or sitting exam as module convenor indicates for `capped pass mark (40) If module is not being offered in the resit year (the next academic session following failure) the student must submit 2 x 2,500 word essays worth 50% each for `capped pass mark (40) H resit The student must submit/take the missing/failed element of assessment/s (exam and/or assessment). Depending on individual circumstances, the resit opportunity will be available in the supplementary (August) examination period or the following academic session for full marks.  

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Identify and discuss the theoretical foundations of Special Forces in relation to the canon of strategic theory.
2. Outline the relationship with technology and total war in the birth of such units.
3. Evaluate the significance of Special Forces in the Desert War, Burma and Occupied France.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the evolution of the requirement for Special Forces in the Cold War with particular attention to unconventional warfare and limited war.
5. Discuss the role of Special Forces in the Malayan campaign and the Vietnam War and their impact on the overall military strategies as well as effectiveness.
6. Assess the significance of the adoption of a counter-terrorist role in the 1980s for Special Forces and its social impact in the West,
7. Evaluate the impact of Special Forces in humanitarian operations.
8. Critically assess the role of Special Forces in the `War on Terror' with particular reference to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as present day activities.

Brief description

This module explores the evolution of Special Forces from the twentieth century to the present day. It examines their theoretical foundations in relation to modern strategy and contemporary applications in international relations. The module encompasses the birth of Special Forces in the Second World War, their relationship with technology and strategy and revival during the Cold War. It will focus closely on the activities of Special Forces in unconventional warfare theatres (Malaya and the Vietnam War), the development of an anti-terrorism role and their wider social impact in Britain and the United States as well as prominence in humanitarian missions in the 1990s. The module will also cover the involvement of Special Forces in the Global War on Terror from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Iraqi Freedom and contemporary counter-terrorism activities in civil societies.


1. Introduction
2. The Purpose of Special Forces
3. Special Forces and Strategic Theory
4. Total War and Techno-Warriors: Special Forces and Technology
5. The SAS in World War II - First Principles and Practice
6. British Special Forces Reborn? The Malayan Campaign
7. Behind Enemy Lines: The Green Berets, SOG and the Vietnam War
8. New Challenges: Special Forces and Counter-Terrorism I: Disaster at Desert One
9. Special Forces and Counter-Terrorism II: Death on the Rock
10. Conventional Warfare: Special Forces in the Falklands Conflict of 1982
11. Special Forces and Humanitarian Operations: From Somalia to Sierra Leone
12. Special Forces and the Global War on Terror I: Operation Enduring Freedom
13. Special Forces and the Global War on Terror II: Operation Iraqi Freedom
14. Special Forces, Covert Action and the London Underground
15. The Future of Special Forces
16. Conclusion

1. Special Forces: Agents of Strategic Transformation?
2. World War II - The Wellspring of Special Forces
3. Lessons from the Jungle: Special Forces and Counter-Insurgency Warfare
4. The Logical Counter-Terrorism Option?
5. Myths, Reality and Niche Warriors: Rambo, the 1980s and Beyond
6. The Global War on Terror and Special Operations Forces (The Freedom Campaigns)
7. Black or White Operations? Special Forces, Insurgents and Terrorists in the Twenty-First Century


The aim of the module is to discuss the evolution of Special Forces from the Second World War onwards and engage with the theory and practice that underpins the utility of Special Forces in contemporary international relations.

Module 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; construct theoretical models; 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.  
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 in their and to be 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.  
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 essay 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 resources.  
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.  
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 Web of Science 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.  
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 evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques  


This module is at CQFW Level 6