module specification

GI5066 - Strategy in the Contemporary World (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Strategy in the Contemporary World
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
 
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   1,000 word book/article review
Coursework 50%   2,000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module examines both the theory and practice of strategy. Combining an historical and contemporary approach, it explores how strategy has moved beyond the traditional approach, which concentrated on wars and military campaigns, to focus on a broader definition, embracing such developments as political strategy (for example, election or civil disobedience strategies).

As well as studying key texts on strategy, such as Sun-tzu and Carl von Clausewitz, and the more recent work of writers such as Lawrence Freedman, a prominent part of the module throughout will involve examining significant case studies. This will encourage students to think as both theorists and practitioners.

Module aims

The broad aim of this module is to enable students to apply knowledge of strategy-making and strategic thinking as a historical practice to contemporary problems, and in particular to:

  • Understand the development of strategic theory and practise.
  • Examine how strategy can be applied by the study of significant case studies.
  • Examine the nature of strategy and how it relates to both policy and action in the 21st Century.
  • Encourage students to think as practitioners.

Syllabus

The module will begin by examining strategic theory from a historical perspective (e.g. Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz) to the contemporary (e.g. Lawrence Freedman).

This will include an examination of the development of military strategies and the major problems and dilemmas posed, beginning with historical military conflicts through to the role of WMDs, the rise of cyberwarfare, and the counterinsurgency campaigns of the 21st Century. In particular, the module will explore how strategy-making increasingly involves not just the use of force, but also the creation of coalitions, and coordinating the actions of multiple actors (including multinational organizations, the media, and other groups of players).

The syllabus will then consider how strategy affects not just the military world, but how it is a crucial, and often overlooked, component of political life.

Throughout, emphasis will be placed on exploring important case studies. 

Finally, the module will consider the role of strategy and how it relates to both policy and action in the rapidly changing, and volatile, contemporary international system.

Learning and teaching

Teaching consists of a weekly two hour lecture followed by a one hour tutorial. Lectures will involve a combination of taught lectures, videos and the use of first hand documents and websites. During the module seminars will combine a variety of methods including discussion based on pre-set questions and role plays. Blended Learning will be a key component of the module. Lecture notes and first hand documents for use in class will be posted on line, as will web links for academic and governmental websites, as well as video links.  Some recorded material by the module tutor may also be made available on line.

Materials for use in class will be posted at least one week in advance on line to allow students to prepare and reflect on the subject. Questions for class discussion will be available from the beginning of the module via the Module Booklet available on the VLE, which will include a list of resources students can use to answer the questions and study the subject in greater depth.

A formative piece of work in the form of a group role play on a contemporary strategic issue will take place mid-module to enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. The role play will be peer-reviewed in class.

There will be two summative pieces. The first will be a review of a book or article. This will encourage students to use a variety of skills, including: extracting and presenting key information; assessing sources in terms of their relevance and quality, and their contribution to the subject area.

The second summative component will be an essay which will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key element of the module. This will enable students to develop writing and research skills whilst reflecting on what they have learnt.

An activity week will also be included in the syllabus to expand on subject-specific knowledge and skills.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should:

  • Be able to engage with key concepts and theories, historical practice, and the major issues and debates in Strategic Studies.
  • Be able to apply knowledge of strategy-making and strategic thinking to historical and contemporary events.
  • Be able to assess and critically analyse the role of strategy in a variety of situations, including political, social, economic, and military strategies.

The transferable skills students should have developed include:

  • The ability to communicate effectively in speech (the ability to work under pressure in seminars, where students must demonstrate the ability to respond to questions orally and also work as a team)and writing (for example, writing an essay using commonly accepted standards of definition, analysis, grammatical prose, and documentation).
  • Research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse arguments and exercise critical judgement.
  • The capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.

Assessment strategy

A formative piece of work in the form of a group role play on a contemporary issue, which will be peer reviewed in class, will take place mid-module to enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. This will encourage the development of a variety of employability skills including: research involving information retrieval from a variety of resources; analysing and advocating solutions to problems; developing a reasoned argument and communicating ideas to the group; exercising critical judgement; and collaborating with others towards a common goal. 

There will be two summative pieces. The first will be a review of a book or article. This will encourage students to use a variety of skills, including: extracting and presenting key information; assessing sources in terms of their relevance and quality, and their contribution to the subject area.

The second summative component is an essay. This will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key element of the module. This will enable students to develop further many of the employability skills introduced during the formative assessment, in addition to writing, reflecting on what they have learnt and making use of constructive feedback.

Bibliography

Baylis, J., et al. (2016) Strategy in the Contemporary World, 5th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brands, H. & Porter, P. (2015) ‘Why Grand Strategy Still Matters in a World of Chaos’, The National Interest, at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-grand-strategy-still-matters-world-chaos-14568.
Clausewitz, C. (1982) On War, London: Penguin.
Dueck, C. (2015), The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Freedman, L. (2013) Strategy: A History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, e-book.
Gray, C. (2015) The Future of Strategy, Cambridge: Polity.
Jentleson, B. (2014), ‘Strategic Recalibration: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy’, The Washington Quarterly, Spring.
Mankhen, T. (2014) Strategic Studies: A Reader, Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.
Mansoor, P. & Murray, W. (2016) Grand Strategy and Military Alliances, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, e-book.
Mearsheimer, J. & Walt, S., (2016) ‘The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior U.S. Grand Strategy’, Foreign Affairs, July/August.
Ministry of Defence, (2014) Global Strategic Trends out to 2045, at www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-strategic-trends-out-to-2045. 
National Intelligence Council, (2017) Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, at https://www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Full-Report.pdf
Sloan, E. (2012) Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction, Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.
Sun-tzu (2009) The Art of War, London: Penguin.
The USA’s National Security Strategy 2015 available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf.
The UK’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015: A Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom, available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-security-strategy-and-strategic-defence-and-security-review-2015.

On-line resources include: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies; Survival; Foreign Policy; Foreign Affairs; and The Washington Quarterly.  Many now have apps for smart phones/tablets, some of which are free.

Other indicative websites include: International Institute for Strategic Studies (ww.iiss.org) and The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (www.csis.org).