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War In International Order (Module)

Module description

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.


This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the most important challenges that war poses for international order. It draws on ideas from international relations, sociology, political geography, and anthropology to equip you with conceptual and analytical insights to understand the relations between international order and war. Are wars an unavoidable threat to international order? Or are they necessary at times to preserve international order? What have the Cold War, the ‘war on terror’, and the war on poverty in common? How can we understand the relations between war and revolution, war and security, war and human rights, war and risk? What alternatives to war are possible today? How have wars and conflicts been transformed by changes in the international order?

War is often seen as one of the most challenging events that a society can encounter. War can threaten a society’s identity, culture, and even survival, it is accompanied by violence and suffering. Wars can also be a source of change and reinvention. 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. War is no longer clearly delimited from peace, as peacebuilding, state-building, reconstruction and democratisation indicate. Thus, wars do not simply threaten international order. Humanitarian wars, for instance, are often held to play a role in managing and sustaining international order.

The module is structured in four sections that aim to understand war and creating order, managing order, challenging order as well as transformations in international order through contemporary debates about new orders/old orders. Each of the four sections ends with an in-depth case study in which you can apply the approaches and concepts discussed in the previous weeks. The aim of the case studies is to develop your skills of analysis and critical engagement, both in terms of developing and presenting your own arguments and developing the capacity to engage in informed discussion and argument about complex political questions.


By the end of this module, students will have:

  • An understanding on how wars contribute to, challenge or impede the creation and maintenance of international order
  • An understanding of how wars have changed historically in relation to structural transformations of the international order
  • Knowledge of key theoretical approaches about international order and war
  • Critical awareness of current debates about war and key concepts to analyse war and international order
  • An ability to construct sound arguments and conduct theoretically informed, critical analysis of political debates concerning the relationship between war and international order;
  • Transferable skills, including critical evaluation, analytical investigation, written and oral presentation and collaboration with others.

Staff information

Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Coursework & Exam*

Key information

Module code 5SSW2049

Credit level 5

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module Yes