Strategy in a Changing World

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Cox PAN.9.01A


This course is compulsory 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: new approaches to strategy in international affairs; the interplay between old and new strategic actors; global strategic and economic trends; political and security developments in the world's key regions; the nature of strategic decisions.


40 hours of lectures and 30 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. (2017), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 7th Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

2. Baylis, J.; Wirtz, J.; Gray, C. (2016), Strategy in the Contemporary World (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

3. Coker, C. (2017), Rebooting Clausewitz: 'On War' in the Twenty-First Century (Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd).

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

5. Cox, M. (2017), ‘The Rise of Populism and the Crisis of Globalisation: Brexit, Trump and Beyond’, Irish Studies in International Affairs 28:1-9.

6. Foot, R. (2017), ‘Power Transitions and Great Power Management:  Three decades of China–Japan–US Relations’, The Pacific Review 30(6): 829-842.

7. Freedman, L. (2013), Strategy: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

8. Heuser, B. (2010), The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

9. Katzenstein, P. (ed.) (1996), The Culture of National Security (New York: Columbia University Press).

10. Kennedy, P. (1988), The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (London: Fontana).

11. MacMillan, M. (2008), The Uses and Abuses of History (Toronto: Viking Canada).

12. Nye, J. (2011), The Future of Power (New York: Public Affairs).

13. Porter, M. (2008), ‘The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy’, Harvard Business Review 86(1): 78-93.

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

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

16. Strange, S. (1996), The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).



Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 11
Merit 71.4
Pass 16.5
Fail 1.1

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2017/18: 1

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information