KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

South Asian Security (Module)

Module description


  • Induction and Orientation module
  • If studying War in the Modern World you must also complete History of Contemporary Warfare 1: the early Cold War, 1945–1975 and History of Contemporary Warfare 2: from Cold War on Terror to War on Terror, 1975-2011.
  • If studying International Relations and Contemporary War, you must also complete International Relations and Contemporary War 1: Theories and Concepts and International Relations and Contemporary War 2: Problems and Issues. 

Study units

  • The India-Pakistan wars
  • Kashmir 
  • Nuclear weapons and Indo-Pakistani crises
  • The United States and South Asia
  • Afghanistan


Some of the most important events in world history since 1945 have taken place in South Asia. The region is not only a centre of profound economic importance – because of the rise of India – but also a locus of global conflict in the context of violent jihad and the potential for a nuclear clash sparked by the long-standing tensions (focused on Kashmir) between India and Pakistan.

This module will allow students to study the region in depth. Unit 1 charts the major peaks of Indo-Pakistani conflict, notably the three wars fought in 1947–8, 1965 and 1971, the latter resulting in the independence of East Pakistan as Bangladesh. The unit begins by reviewing the imperialist background of the region and the impact and legacy of the subcontinent’s Partition at the end of British rule in 1947. That legacy has seen its most acute moments of conflict, since 1947, in connection with contested Kashmir: this is the focus of Unit 2.

By the mid-1970s, India had carried out a nuclear explosion, and a decade later Western intelligence believed that Pakistan also possessed a nuclear-weapons capability. Unit 3 addresses the development of nuclear weapons by both countries, and assesses the impact of the nuclear factor on the regional security dynamic.

The nuclear issue inevitably drew attention and concern from around the world, including from the United States. But from 1947, the tensions dividing Pakistan and India also spurred both countries towards the embrace of different superpowers during the Cold War. Unit 4 examines these wider strategic relationships, focusing particularly on the evolving relations with the United States into the 21st century (with some attention on the emerging superpower of China).

Historically, Afghanistan has long been an important part of the strategic and security axis of South Asia, and a site for military intervention. In the 19th century, Britain fought there, seeing it as essential to securing Imperial India against Russian encroachment. In 1979, Afghanistan became a Cold War proxy battleground, and following 9/11 the Afghan regime and its al-Qaeda backers became the first target in the United States’ ‘war on terror’. Unit 5 tackles Afghanistan, including the complex dynamic vis à vis Pakistan and the role of Afghanistan in Indo-Pakistani tensions.

By the end of 2001, the war against the Afghan Taliban appeared won. But by 2015, the drawdown of most US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan did not signal an end to conflict within Afghanistan. Unit 5, and the module, concludes by reviewing the extent to which a peace deal with the Taliban is possible. 

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

Staff information

Not applicable

Teaching pattern

One-term course, 1 x 11 weeks

Module assessment - more information

All War Studies Online modules are 20-credit modules and will be assessed by:

  • 1 x 1500-word short essay
  • 1 x 3000-word long essay
  • In addition you will be assessed on participation within the discussions

Key information

Module code 7SSWM184

Credit level 7

Assessment coursework

Credit value 20 credits

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module No