Strategy in a Changing World

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chris Alden


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).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information