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Contemporary British Defence Policy (Module)

Module description

British Defence Policy has been going through an unprecedented period of operational challenge in the last few years and particularly in the last half dozen years. Until the launch of the previous Government's Defence Review in September 2009 there had been very little discussion of the direction and shape of British defence policy outside of the Ministry of Defence and the armed services. Decisions with enormous implications for future generations have been taken with little or no public engagement with the debates. As casualties have risen in Iraq and Afghanistan a campaign to draw attention to the pay and conditions of service personnel and their families has re-opened a debate on the concept of a military covenant between the state and the armed forces which continues. At the same time defence policy has begun to be seen as a component of a broader National Security Strategy with significant implications for future funding models and modes of delivery.


While the current preoccupation is on on-going operational commitments in the Middle East and Central Asia, significant problems in equipment procurement continue to dog the British defence establishment with claims of enormous gaps in the defence budget provision for existing equipment programmes and future requirements. The Government has embarked upon a 'strategic defence and security review' which is due to report in he autumn of 2010. This module will consider these and other issues in the historical context of British defence policy and in light of current debates.



This aims of the module are to:

- provide a framework for understanding and analysing the formulation and delivery of defence policy in the UK;

- foster the skills required for analysis of the various influences on defence policy formulation;

- develop a comprehensive appreciation of the relationship between government, the military and commercial organisations in the delivery of defence capability;

- highlight how commercial calculations affects political decisions and public discourse; and,

- promote an understanding of the impact of new technology on the future of British defence policy.



Learning Outcomes:

On successfully completing the module students will be able to demonstrate:

- an understanding of the key issues facing current British defence policy makers;

- a critical engagement in the methodological questions associated with the study of defence policy making;

- an understanding of the historical context of existing defence policy;

- the ability to evaluate the conflicting pressures on the armed services; and,

- an ability to engage critically with the literature on the subject, to undertake independent research and to exercise informed judgement on current security issues.

Staff information

Not applicable

Teaching pattern

Not applicable

Module assessment - more information

Not applicable

Key information

Module code 7SSWM017

Credit level 7


Credit value


Study abroad module No