War and the International

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

War is a social institution which has long been central to both the practice and the study of international relations.

This module has the following aims:

  • it introduces students to the phenomenon of war and demonstrates its ubiquity across time and space in human affairs
  • 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
  • it develops an account of war in the context of relations between a global north and a global south
  • it sketches the different forms war has taken across time and space; specifically, colonial, great power, small, guerrilla, counter-insurgent, 'cold' etc
  • 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 module 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.

Objectives and learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to demonstrate a familiarity with a central issue of international relations in a way that is comprehensive and critical


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 30%
Unseen written examination 70%

Suggested reading

  • Barkawi, Tarak. 2006. Globalization and War (New York: Rowman and Littlefield)
  • Barkawi, Tarak and Mark Laffey. 2006. ‘The Postcolonial Moment in Security Studies,’ Review of International Studies 32(2): 329-352
  • Boot, Max. 2002. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power  (New York: Basic Books)
  • Cumings, Bruce. 2010. The Korean War: A History (New York: Random House)
  • Dower, John W. 1986. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.