Strategy in a Changing World

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Cox COL2.05A


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 LT. 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. Michael Howard, The Lessons of History, 1992

2. Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers (Richard Elliott, 1986)

3. Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead and Andrew Campbell, Think Again: why good leaders make bad decisions and how to keep it from happening to you.

4. Paul Kennedy ed., Grand Strategies in War and Peace, 1991

5. Williamson Murray, MacGregor Knox and Alvin Bernstein, eds, The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States and War, 1994

6. Michael I. Handel, Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought, 3rd ed, 2001

7. Arther Ferrill, ‘The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire’, in Paul Kennedy ed, Grand Strategies in War and Peace, 1991, Chapter 5, pp 71-85)

8. Edward Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, (2009)

9. Dominic Lieven, Russia Against Napoleon—The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814, 2009

10. Gordon S. Barrass, The Great Cold War: A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors, 2009

11. Michael Cox, John Ikenberry and Takashi Inoguchi (eds.), American democracy promotion: impulses, strategies, and impacts, (2000)

12. Katzenstein, Peter 'National security in a changing world' in Katzenstein P (ed) The Culture of National Security, 1996

13. Royal College of Defence Studies, Thinking Strategically, Oct. 2010 , pp 1-55 (online).

14. Christopher Coker, War in an Age of Risk, (2009).

15. Richard Rumelt, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy—The Difference and Why it Matters, 2011


Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.3
Merit 66.2
Pass 19.5
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2014/15: 27

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information