Security politics happens in between war and peace. Both are highly contested political concepts, as are 'conflict' and 'violence', that various theories try to decontest. The module explores the transformation of war in the contemporary era due to the disintegration of the state's monopoly on organised political violence. We will examine a diverse assortment of conflict constellations, including civil wars, counterinsurgencies and counterterrorist campaigns, along with information, cyber and hybrid warfare. What is the relationship between changes in military technology and the way particular wars are fought and justified, or conflicts managed and pacified? How to measure violence and conflict? Who has a responsibility to protect, and for whom are peace and security for? Ranging from the privatisation and commercialisation of organised political violence, globalisation and humanitarian wars, we examine the power and consequences of framing contemporary conflicts in particular ways. The module is divided in three main sections. First, we address the sources and causes of current conflicts in various hotspots across the globe. Second, we examine a variety of contemporary methods of conflict management and prevention. Third, we focus on the key question of ending conflicts and bringing peace, examining the premises and promises of democratic and liberal peace theories along with various transitional justice policies.
The aims of the module are as follows:
• to present an overview of different concepts of and approaches to the management of international conflict and security issues;
• to develop analytical tools for analysing and evaluating different strategies for managing conflicts and security threats, as perceived and articulated by various actors;
• to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and encourage a reflexive reading of the normative dilemmas that may be included in political decisions;
• to determine the conditions under which certain strategies of international management are more or less likely to succeed.
By the conclusion of the module, students will be able to:
• explain and use key concepts in the theory and practice of international conflict and security
• develop and apply criteria for the evaluation of different forms of international management of conflict and security issues
• evaluate and explain success and failure of different international conflict and security management efforts
• draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and security issues, including on-line resources
• appreciate the ethical and normative dilemmas in the management of international conflicts and security issues
• identify current political challenges to international peace and security
Topics to be discussed:
• How has war changed since the end of the Cold War?
• Mapping contemporary conflicts and security against the bias of methodological nationalism
• Whose security?
• Humanitarian wars and dilemmas. Responsibility to protect.
• Terrorism, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency
• International law and the 'war on terror'. Ethics and the ambiguity of contemporary conflict
• Cyber conflicts and hybrid wars in the information age
• Conflicts over historical memory and state ontological security
• Peacekeeping, peace-making, peace-building
• Conflict resolution and legitimacy in the post-conflict setting
• Transitional justice as a vehicle for peace-building in post-conflict settings
This module appears in the following module collections.
Method of assessment
The assessment consists of an essay of approximately 5,000 words, made of an analysis of an ongoing crisis and section of relevant policy recommendations. Active participation in the seminars (including a case study presentation in class) are important steps in preparing for your final paper.
1. Barkawi, Tarak (2006) Globalization and War. Rowman and Littlefield.
2. Bridoux, Jeff and Milja Kurki (2014) Democracy Promotion: A Critical Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.
3. Campbell, Susanna, David Chandler and Meera Sabaratnam (2011) A Liberal Peace? The Problem and Practices of Peacebuilding. London: Zed Books.
4. Cramer, Christopher (2006) Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London: Hurst & Co.
5.Duffield, Mark (2014) Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security. London and New York: Zed Books.
6. Lebow, Richard Ned (2010) Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives for War. Cambridge: CUP.
7. MacGinty R. 2006. No War, No Peace, The Rejuvenation of Stalled Peace Processes and Peace Accords. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
8. Porch, Douglas (2013) Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War. Cambridge: CUP.
9. Richmond Oliver P. 2007. The Transformation of Peace. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
10. Strachan, Hew and Sibylle Scheipers (eds) (2011) The Changing Character of War. Oxford University Press.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
By the conclusion of the module, students will be able to:
· explain and use key concepts in the theory and practice of international conflict and security;
· develop and apply criteria for the evaluation of different forms of international management of conflict and security issues
· evaluate and explain success and failure of different international conflict and security management efforts;
· draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and security issues, including on-line resources;
· appreciate the ethical and normative dilemmas in the management of international conflicts and security issues;
· identify current political challenges to international peace and security.
Back to top
Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.