The Causes of War
The Conduct of War
The Experience of War
Contemporary Security Issues (15 credits)
The Art of War Studies (15 credits)
The Causes of War
What causes war? What appears to be a simple question is one of the most difficult puzzles of political science and international relations. War is extreme. No other human activity is as intense, as devastating, as emotional, and as confusing as the organized clash of arms. We will consider what war is, what a cause may be, if the occurrence of wars follows any historical pattern, and what makes war more and less likely. We will consider security dilemmas, misperceptions, politics, religion, resources, and more. Causes of War will provide some basic historic as well as theoretical understanding of the variables and situations that have resulted in organized armed confrontation – a crucial building block for understanding international politics in general as well as specific case studies. Better understanding the complex causes of war, so the basic assumption of this course, is a precondition for preventing war.
Aims: analyzing and understanding different causes of armed conflict, applying arguments to actual case studies, improve academic skills, such as analytical reading, critical analysis, and most importantly clear writing.
The Conduct of War
This module does not aim to provide a comprehensive history of warfare, since this would in effect require a potted survey of the whole of world history. Rather, it examines different historical approaches to the study of war, key explanations for the changing nature of war, and the role of political, social, economic and technological factors in the growing complexity of warfare from medieval times to the industrial age. Students will not be expected to gain a detailed knowledge of all the conflicts fought in this period. They will, however, acquire a broad understanding of the changing nature of warfare and specific detailed knowledge of certain wars and campaigns which illustrate the module's key themes.
This module aims to introduce students to different approaches to the study of war as a political and social phenomenon, and to key aspects of, and developments in, the nature and impact of warfare. The module will also give students a broad chronological introduction to wars and warfare in modern history.
The Experience of War
The aim is to explore the various experiences of war – individual, group and community, direct and indirect, battlefield (land, sea and air) and home front, military and civilian, male and female, empirical and cultural; to encourage reflection on the meaning and value of experience and the relevance of experience as evidence; to promote an understanding of experience in relation to other aspects of war.
Learning Outcomes:§ To introduce students to the use of memoirs, biographies, personal testimony, battle studies, literature, poetry, painting, film and other arts to illustrate the impact of war at various levels – individual, group and community, direct and indirect, battle (land, sea and air) and home front, military and civilian
Art of War Studies
This is a one-term course paired with Contemporary Security Issues, which follows on from Art of War Studies in January. Supplementing the other BA1 core courses in War Studies, the aim of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the main skills, academic and other, that are necessary for the BA War Studies programme.
By the end of this course, students should have:
§ completed a number of exercises introducing them to a variety of practical academic skills, ranging from essay writing, reviewing, class participation and oral presentation, working in groups, research –– both traditional and using the electronic sources available from KCL Information Resources and the Internet more generally, effective time management and exam-taking
§ Be aware of the range of academic disciplines that may be brought to the study of war and have considered the multi-disciplinary nature of War Studies at KCL as a practical, philosophical and methodological issue
§ Have studied Chapter 1, Book 1 of Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, be able to analyze it critically and be familiar with other aspects of Clausewitz's thought and its significance
§ Have considered Clausewitz's thought through the prism of, and be familiar with, works on contemporary war, such as Martin van Creveld's On Future War and Rupert Smith's The Utility of Force
§ Have studied Michael Howard's War and the Liberal Conscience
§ Be able to respond to two basic questions in our field — 'What is war?' and 'Why study war?' — in a structured and reasoned manner with reference to the authors noted above and possess a basic appreciation of competing models of international relations.
Contemporary Security Issues
This is a one-term module paired with the Art of War Studies module, and builds on the knowledge and skills introduced in that module. The aim of this module is to enable students to develop core subject knowledge of contemporary security issues, and personal transferable skills in research, presentation and group work.
By the end of this module, students should be able to understand different uses and understandings of the concept of security; have knowledge of the main empirical issues of contemporary international security; understand the normative implications of the conceptual debates and empirical issues of contemporary security; have had the opportunity to develop research, presentation and group work skills.
The lectures will introduce students to the conceptual, normative and empirical issues of contemporary security studies. The seminars provide a forum for exploring ideas and issues raised in the lectures in greater depth. Seminars will provide an opportunity for students to get individual assistance in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the module learning outcomes.
The optional modules offered in Year 2 cover various important aspects of the overall topic of war. All the modules permit you to practise and extend your intellectual, practical, and transferable skills, especially through team work and practice in developing your own research questions. These provide a deeper understanding of war as revealed through a variety of disciplinary lenses, including history, politics, philosophy, and sociology.
Intelligence in War Studies
This module examines the concepts, issues and debates regarding the organisation and use of intelligence in war and peace. It does so by employing a multidisciplinary approach to teach students about the function of intelligence from the early twentieth century to the present day. The underlying theoretical principles of the intelligence gathering and analysis process are dealt with along with the key issues of intelligence failures, surprise and deception. Alongside this the principal aim of the module to link the acquisition of intelligence with its impact on political and military decision-making by means of case studies ranging from the First World War to NATO's current operations in Southwest Asia. Differing national approaches to intelligence gathering and organisations are covered. In addition the political dimension of intelligence gathering, questions of oversight and accountability within democratic societies and ethical aspects are also dealt with.
War in International Order
War is one of the most challenging events that a society can encounter. War can challenge a society's identity, culture, and even survival, it is accompanied by violence and suffering. If wars had long been exceptional occurrences that were clearly delimited in time (times of war) and space (the battlefield), contemporary wars are increasingly becoming more extensive and more ordinary. This module aims to introduce students to the most important challenges that war poses for international order. It draws on ideas from international relations, sociology, political theory and philosophy to equip students with the necessary theoretical frameworks and conceptual toolboxes to understand wars in the international order.
World War Two in Europe
This course revolves heavily around teamwork and private study, and makes extensive use of active learning techniques such as debates and simulations, thereby helping to prepare students for the smaller option classes of BA3. The course focuses on the strategy and tactics of this enormous conflict. It begins with a lecture and group discussion comparing the patterns of conflict in World War II with those in World War I, and then proceeds through an inter-leaved arrangement of three major course elements. The first element covers the operational characteristics of 5 key types of combat during the conflict (Blitzkrieg, Assault, Convoy, Invasion, and Bombing). The second course element covers strategic controversies and alternative possible scenarios.
Aspects of Naval History
The aim of this course is to examine key issues in modern naval history, both as case studies in history and as historiographical and methodological exercises. Students will be introduced to the main debates and the range of approaches adopted by strategists and historians from the medieval period to the present day. In addition to the development and employment of battlefleets, students will study the variety of other uses and experiences of sea power in history.
War and Global Conflict in the Contemporary World:
This survey course will build on issues raised in the first-year War Studies core courses. It will aim at promoting the empirical understanding of the major characteristics of wars and global conflicts against the changing political, socio-economic, and technological conditions in which they have taken place from the end of the Second World War to the near present. It will deal with the contemporary history of international conflicts and wars, and will investigate the key concepts and issues which have influenced them in the context of numerous case studies.
War and Society
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of key issues in philosophical and sociological approaches to the study of war and the military establishment. The philosophical part of the course examines the relation between descriptive and normative understandings of phenomena such as 'war', 'deterrence' and 'terrorism'. The aim of the sociological part of the course is to describe and explain the main changes in the relationships between warfare, armed forces and society that have occurred since the 'military revolution' in western Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This module provides an overview of military strategy from the eighteenth century to the present day. It achieves this with the help of a theoretical framework, within which knowledge of historical and contemporary events can be organized and interpreted. For the purposes of this module, strategy is defined as 'the instrumental link between military means and political ends'. This definition is used to draw attention to the fact that the character of strategy is shaped by the political goals for which war is conducted as well as by the military means available to the belligerents. It follows from this that we shall be looking at what political leaders have hoped to achieve by going to war, in addition to examining the military means available to them. The question we shall be asking at each point is exactly how strategy was, or is, intended to translate a given set of military means into a desired political outcome.
In addition to the dissertation, students will need to choose three optional modules drawn from a wide range of more specialist options which provide opportunities to study specialist subjects in-depth. These modules are designed to take advantage of the current research expertise of academic staff in the department and bring you to the frontiers of scholarship.
Weapons of Mass Destruction in International Politics
This module examines the role that 'weapons of mass destruction'—chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons—have played in international politics from their creation to the present day. The first part of the class will be devoted to nuclear weapons, so that we can use them as a baseline against which to evaluate the role of chemical and biological weapons in international politics. The topics we will investigate include the basic science of these weapons, cases of their use and non-use by state as well as non-state actors, and CBN proliferation—its causes, implications, and the efforts that have been made to halt it.
Philosophies of War
The purpose of this course is to consider what is involved in 'having a philosophy of war'. We will examine expositions of such well-known traditions as realism, pacifism and the just war, together with the view of war to be found in broader social theories such as liberalism, Marxism, anarchism and conflict research. We will seek to develop from these sources and from our own intuitions and studies a reasoned account of the range of issues which must be addressed in any truly comprehensive philosophy of war: and to identify and assess critically the controversies among contending traditions and theories.
Warfare in the Ancient World
This course is concerned with military forces in action, and analyses ancient warfare from a strategic and tactical viewpoint. The aim is to give you a better understanding of the dynamics of military operations in antiquity, and to enable you to explore why campaigns and battles proceeded in the way that they did. The course will focus on the classic Mediterranean conflicts of the last five centuries BC.
The USA and World War II
This module deals with the response of the United States to the dual burden of World War II and the assumption of world leadership from the signing of the Washington Naval Treaties (1920). Initially, it will be concerned with the drift to war, lendlease and the strategic problems arising from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 'Europe First or Asia First'?, the Battle of the Atlantic and the controversy over the Second front. Throughout the focus will be on the relationship between strategy and foreign policy, the implications of 'unconditional surrender', Allied summitry, and the result of the Allied strategy developed in 1943 of advancing in the Mediterranean coupled with strategic bombing and the delayed landings in Normandy in 1944.
Towards the end of the Second World War the emphasis will shift from military strategy to United States assumptions about the shape of the post-war world and its negotiations with the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union during 1944 and 1945 culminating in the Potsdam Conference, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and the end of the war in the Far East.
The Yugoslav War 1991-2008
This course aims to offer those who complete the course the opportunity to acquire a sound foundation of knowledge with which to unravel some of the complexities of the Yugoslav war; to foster analysis of the Yugoslav war though a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to promote understanding of the relationship between politics and war through the Yugoslav context; to appreciate repercussions of war on society and culture, whether international, regional or national; to foster conscious critical reading and discussion; to complement core courses.
Fighting in the Air
This BA option course is designed to provide a detailed strategic and tactical analysis of battles for air superiority since the dawn of air warfare a century ago. The course aims to show how the tactics and strategy of air superiority contests have evolved over time, and to develop an analytical framework within which the decisive factors in any given contest may be identified. The course covers all aspects of the duel between opposing air arms and air defence systems, but does not cover the use of air power against surface targets unrelated to the air battle. It also focuses on actual experiences of air combat, rather than on theoretical speculations about potential aerial duels.
Security Issues in the Middle East since WWII
The aim of the course is to give students an overview of the historical, political, economic and strategic factors that shape the modern Middle East. For students who are already familiar with the region, the course will provide them with the concepts and tools necessary to develop an analytical approach to understanding the problems of war and peace in the Middle East. Upon successful completion of the course, student will have: applied their understanding of the causes and conduct of war, developed in the BA core courses, to the Middle East region; a comprehensive overview of the main themes and issues in modern Middle Eastern political and security affairs; an understanding of approaches to the study of foreign and security policy making in the Middle East and by external powers involved in the region; familiarity with the main sources of information on Middle Eastern politics and security affairs.
Causes, Contingency and War
Cause has been described by some as the cement of the universe and by others, including David Hume, as human artifice. Either way, ordinary people and scholars use the concept to organize their knowledge about the world in the hope of making it more predictable. This course will explore varying understandings of cause and the epistemological foundations on which they rest. We will explore the particular problems that confront scholars attempting to offer causal accounts of international relations and wars. Many of these events are “one offs” so we must resort to counterfactual thought experiments to probe their contingency and causes. Students will learn how to employ counterfactuals in rigorous ways toward these ends. We will use the two World Wars and some more recent conflicts as our historical subjects.
Guerrillas in the Mist
This course surveys the theory and evolution of the form of war called insurgency, or guerrilla warfare. It will examine the issues of definition and the conceptual challenges posed by trying to identify this particular facet of war. The course will evaluate individual theorists of guerrilla warfare and analyse contending theories of insurgency. Conversely, attention will also be given to how political actors have sought to counter and defeat insurgency and counter-insurgency practice through the examination of a broad range of notable, and not so notable, campaigns. The principle aim of the course is to cover the material utilizing a) a strategic approach to comprehend the uses and objectives of insurgent and counter-insurgent activity b) an historical approach to understand the evolution of insurgency and counter-insurgency and c) an ethical appreciation of the peculiar moral dilemmas involved in this mode of warfare.
War and International Relations
This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the ways in which attempts have been made within the field of international relations to explain war theoretically, and the possibilities and limitations of theoretical approaches to war. In order to do this, the course will consider some of the most influential theoretical approaches to the study of war within international relations, and the ways in which these approaches enable us to understand contemporary international events. In examining these issues, this course will lead students to draw upon and deepen ideas and concepts developed elsewhere in the War Studies curriculum including on the causes of war, the interrelationship of war and society, and contemporary security issues.