IR305     
Strategic Aspects of International Relations

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jürgen Haacke CBG 9.01

Availability

This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped).

Course content

This course examines key topics in relation to contemporary strategy. The course begins by exploring its relationship to the field of strategic and security studies. This includes an introduction to the literature on strategic theory, and the meanings of a range of strategy-related concepts. The course will then explore the insights and contributions of some important strategic thinkers, such as Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. With regard to military strategy, the course offers a particular focus on maritime strategy and the uses of air power. In addition, the course covers strategy in relation to several further topics including: nuclear power and deterrence; irregular war, especially insurgency and counterinsurgency; technological change; as well as ethical constraints. Multiple contemporary empirical cases relating to the study of strategic aspects of international relations will be discussed, such as the failures of counterinsurgency strategies; Russian strategy and ‘hybrid war’; geostrategy towards the North Atlantic and the Arctic region; US-China strategic competition; as well as debates about recent UK strategic defence and security reviews.

Teaching

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totaling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to write two essays (c. 2000 words each) in the course of the year, one in MT and one in LT.

Indicative reading

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

Clausewitz, Christopher Coker, Rebooting Clausewitz- On War in the 21st Century (Hurst, 2017).

Derek M.C. Yuen, Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to read The Art of War (Hurst, 2014).

Ian Speller: Understanding Naval Warfare, 2nd ed. (Routledge 2019).

Robert A. Pape, Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell University Press, 1996).

Patrick Porter, Military Orientalism: Eastern War Through Western Eyes (Hurst, 2009).

P.W. Singer, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Penguin, 2009).

Vipin Narang, Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era: Regional Powers and International Conflict (Princeton, 2014).

David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Hurst, 2009).

Ben Barry, Blood, Metal and Dust: How Victory turned into defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq (Osprey, 2020).

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, (Basic Books,1997).

James E. Hickey , Precision-guided Munitions and Human Suffering in War (Ashgate, 2012).

Mitchell A. Orenstein, The Lands in Between: Russia vs. the west and the New Politics of Hybrid War (Oxford, 2019).

Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttal, The Scramble for the Poles (Polity Press, 2016).

Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? ((Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

Assessment

Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: 30

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Capped 2020/21: Yes (20)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication