Strategy in a Changing World

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Cox TW1.9.01A


This course is available on the MSc in International Strategy and Diplomacy. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course examines five different perspectives on strategy: the need for a new approach to strategy; the interplay between old and new strategic actors; strategic trends - economic, social, political and military; the evolving strategic international environment and the changing role of institutions; and the nature of strategic decisions.


8 hours of lectures and 2 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word formative essay with a pre-arranged title due in the MT. Feedback will involve a meeting with each student to discuss their formative essay. In the process, we will aim to ensure that students are able to: - Critically evaluate different kinds of evidence; - Assess the strengths and weaknesses of competing explanatory paradigms; - Formulate arguments in a coherent and balanced fashion.

Indicative reading

1. Baylis, J.; Smith, S.; Owens, P. (2014), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 6th Edition.

2. Baylis, J.; Wirtz, J.; Gray, C. (2013), Strategy in the Contemporary World.

3. Coker, C. (2009), War in an Age of Risk.

4. Cox, M. (2012), ‘Power Shifts, Economic Change and the Decline of the West?’, International Relations 26(4): 369-388.

5. Finkelstein, S.; Whitehead, J.; Campbell, A. (2009), Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep it From Happening to You.

6. Freedman, L. (2013), Strategy: A History.

7. Heuser, B. (2010), The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present.

8. Katzenstein, P. (ed.) (1996), The Culture of National Security.

9. Kennedy, P. (1987), The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000.

10. Kissinger, H. (2014), World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History.

11. Murray, W.; Knox M.; Bernstein, A. (eds.) (1994), The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States and War.

12. Persson, G. (2015), Military Thinking in the 21st Century.

13. Quah, D. (2011), ‘The Global Economy's Shifting Centre of Gravity’, Global Policy 2 (1): 3-9.

14. Reynolds, D. (2000), One World Divisible: A Global History since 1945.

15. Rumelt, R. (2011), Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters.

16. Spero, J; Hart, J. (2010), The Politics of International Economic Relations, seventh edition.



Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.5
Merit 68.7
Pass 15.7
Fail 1.2

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2015/16: 1

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information