Governance and War in Cyberspace - POLI8114

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Gareth Mott checkmark-circle


This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


This optional module contributes to all programmes offered by, and with, the School of Politics and International Relations.

Method of assessment

Policy paper, 1,500 words (40%)
Individual essay, 3,500 words (60%)

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Thomas Chen, Lee Jarvis and Stuart Macdonald, (2014) Cyberterrorism: Understanding, Assessment, and Response, New York: Springer

Nazli Choucri et al., (2019) Cyberspace and International Relations: The Co-Evolution Dilemma, Cambridge MA: MIT Press

Lucas Kello, (2018) The Virtual Weapon and International Order, New Haven CT: Yale University Press

Jan-Frederick Kremer and Benedikt Muller, (2014) Cyberspace and International Relations: Theory, Prospects and Challenges, New York: Springer

David Sanger, (2018) The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, London: Scribe

Damien Van Puyvelde and Aaron Brantly, (2019) Cybersecurity: Politics, Governance and Conflict in Cyberspace, Cambridge: Polity Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Understand and critically assess various definitions of cyberspace, confidently dividing these into social and technical forms.

2. Demonstrate a rigorous comprehension of the existing structures for the governance of cyberspace, and the challenges of progressing this governance regime further.

3. Critique the manner in which cyberspace can be used as a means of power projection by both state and non-state actors.

4. Demonstrate a keen critical understanding of cyber weaponry and its potential effects, confidently distinguishing between 'costly nuisances' and 'cyber disasters'.

5. Critically analyse the role of identity and representation in the formulation of a 'Politics of Cybersecurity', with reference to relevant case studies.

6. Rigorously apply knowledge gained in the module to assess cases of both 'online' and ‘offline’ conflagration.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources.

2. Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems.

3. Develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement.

4. Be self-reflective and critical of their own work.

5. Effectively use online bibliographic search engines, online resources, and conduct research.

6. Engage in academic and professional communication with others in both verbal and written format.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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