SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

War and the International 2

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 2

War is a social institution which has long been central to both the practice and the study of international relations. This module is the second part of a two-parts course, which has the following aims. First, it introduces students to the phenomenon of war and demonstrates its ubiquity across time and space in human affairs. Second, it develops an account of war as a constitutive force in the production of world politics past, present and future. Specifically, it charts the role of war in the production of states, societies and cultures, and the international system itself. Third, it develops an account of war in the context of relations between a global north and a global south. Fourth, it sketches the different forms war has taken across time and space; specifically, colonial, great power, small, guerrilla, counter-insurgent, 'cold' etc. Fifth, it brings these themes together in an account of the so-called 'war on terror', charting continuities and discontinuities with other forms of war. By the end of the course students should expect to have an informed and critical grasp of the role of war in the production and shaping of the modern world and how it has been conceptualised and explained. In addition, they will also have been introduced to an historical sociological conception of the international informed by postcolonial thought.


Please note: In order to take this module you must also take 1534000167 War and the International 1 in Term 1.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • [See module outline above]


1 hour lecture per week

1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. Small Wars I: Colonial/Settler Wars 
  3. Small Wars II: Revolutionary/Guerrilla Wars
  4. Counterinsurgency and 'Dirty Wars'
  5. What is a 'World' War?
  6. The Cold War as Nuclear War?
  7. War on Terror or Late Modern War?
  8. World War V: War as Policing?
  9. War at a Distance - The Politics of Drones
  10. Conclusion

Method of assessment

Assessment is 30% coursework (one 1500 word essay), 70% unseen examination (2 hours).


Suggested reading

  • Guevara, Che. 1973. The Marxism of Che Guevara: Philosophy, Economics, Revolutionary Warfare (New York: Monthly Review)
  • Halperin, Sandra. 2004. War and Social Change in Modern Europe: The Great Transformation Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Howard, Michael 2008. War and the Liberal Conscience (London: Hurst and Co.)
  • James, C.L.R. 1980. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London: Penguin)
  • Khalili, Laleh. 2012. Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press)
  • Kwon, Heonik. 2010. The Other Cold War (New York: Columbia University Press)
  • Malesevic, Sinisa. 2010. The Sociology of War and Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Mandel, Ernest. 1986. The Meaning of the Second World War (London: Verso)
  • Moon, Katherine. 1997. Sex among Allies: military prostitution in US-Korea relations (New York: Columbia University Press)
  • Trotsky, Leon. 1971. Military Writings (New York: Pathfinder)   


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules