Master Conflict, Security & Development

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  • Entry requirements
    This programme is for graduates and professionals who are keen to explore the conceptual, historical and policy issues surrounding security and development and how these manifest themselves in the wider context of contemporary warfare and international security.
  • Academic title
    MA Conflict, Security & Development
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - The Department of War Studies is unique in the UK and one of the few university departments in the world devoted exclusively to the study of war as a human phenomenon.
    - The unrivalled location in the heart of London beside the River Thames brings outstanding advantages. Students enjoy excellent academic, social and cultural opportunities. The department is close to the seat of government, the City, the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Inns of Court.
    - Students have access to visiting academics, serving officers, government ministers and other experts who give regular public lectures and seminars.

    This programme is designed to provide students with an advanced and comprehensive understanding of the complex linkages between issues of security and development in contemporary international relations.The programme encourages students to explore the conceptual, historical and policy issues surrounding security and development and how these manifest themselves in the wider context of contemporary warfare and international security.

    Throughout the Cold War and well into the 1990s, mainstream work in the respective fields of security and development studies remained largely unaffected by each other's perspectives and priorities. The sense that each area of study proceeded from a different set of assumptions and embraced a distinctive agenda was mirrored in the world of policy-making. This began to change in the 1990s and the importance of considering questions of security and development in their mutual interaction have become increasingly recognised by practitioners and scholars alike. The programme reflects this important trend and provides a unique course of study drawing upon the insights offered by a range of different disciplines, including international relations, history, development studies and anthropology. The growing interest in the relationship between conflict, security and development stems, in part, from the fact that the international community has become steadily more involved in efforts to mitigate, contain and resolve violent conflicts, especially those occurring within the boundaries of states and within the context of so-called 'failed' or 'collapsing' states. Although such involvement has been selective, the general trend is clear. The number of peace support operations, transitional administrations and 'peacebuilding' initiatives have increased dramatically over the past 15 years. This heightened degree of involvement has brought into sharp relief the interdependence of security and development concerns and has also raised a series of conceptual and policy challenges which the programme will explore in greater detail.

    The programme is designed to have broad ranging appeal to those interested in pursuing graduate studies in the areas of security, conflict studies and development. Those who may find this programme to be of particular interest include: graduates in politics, history, international relations, economics and strategic studies; those with practical experience in the development field who may wish to reflect on the wider issues and implications of their experience; those who have worked with international organisations, including the United Nations and its specialised agencies or with NGOs in zones of conflict who may wish to reflect on their experience; professionals in the areas of development, defence, diplomacy and foreign affairs.

    The MA programme contains the following elements:
    - A compulsory core module: Security & Development (worth 40 credits);
    - Optional modules chosen from a range of possibilities (worth 80 credits in total);
    - A dissertation of 15,000 words (worth 60 credits).

    The dissertation is to be written over the summer term. You may choose your own topic but it must fall within the remit of your programme of study and must be approved by a member of staff. If you are a part-time student, you are advised to take the core module in your first year of study and write your dissertation in your second year.

    Programme format and assessment
    Continuous assessment by essay; examinations and a dissertation of 15,000 words.
    Programme modules for MA Conflict, Security & Development 

    Security and Development
    (Core Module)
    The core course, Security and Development, provides a comprehensive, analytical and empirically-informed treatment of the linkages between issues of security and development in contemporary international relations. To this end, the course covers four key areas: · The Process of Development, War and Social Violence. This part of the course introduces students to the major debates within the fields of Sociology, Development Studies and International Relations concerning the process of development and its relationship to violent conflict and change. In particular, it explores competing claims regarding the causal connections between processes of socio-economic change and the incidence and patterns of violent conflict in the developing world. · Security and Development Issues During Conflict. The course is also centrally concerned with the impact of violent conflict on development and, conversely, how different levels or states of development influence the nature and character of contemporary armed conflict. Issues covered in this part of the course include, inter alia, state failure and war; the political economy of civil wars; food security, famines and war; and natural resources, scarcity and armed conflict. · Security and Development Issues in Transitions from War to Peace. This part of the course explores the linkages between issues of security and development in the aftermath of violent conflict. Detailed attention will be given to areas of outside involvement – e.g. the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of combatants – where historical and contemporary experience suggests that security and development need to be thought of as mutually dependent, not distinct and separate, fields of policy intervention. Special attention is also given to contemporary forms of international administration of war torn societies. · Policy Making for Development and Security. This component focuses on the manner in which questions of security and development have been addressed by policy-makers within and among donor countries, by global and regional organisations, and by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Particular emphasis is placed on the UN “system” and the role of the Bretton Woods institutions (the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund).

    African Security
    This module provides students with a detailed understanding of African security. Specifically, the module hopes to address the key issues underlining conflicts in the continent, the institutions established to meet the demands of the continent's security, and recent developments in the major conflict zones in the continent (such as Darfur, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region). The module will also address issues such as ethnicity and citizenship, nature and the extent and impact of external interventions in the continent, and the increasing link between the continent and the global war against terrorism. Finally, the module will investigate all the ways through which these issues have affected security and development in the region.

    Boundaries, Sovereignty & the Territorial State
    This module introduces students to the history of politically organised space and the territorial origins and characteristics of the Westphalian state system. It reviews the changing manner in which political geography and geopolitics have covered the questions of international boundaries and state territory over time; from traditional deterministic concerns, through the humanisation of borderland studies to deterritorialisation, reterritorialisation and postmodernity. Students develop a familiarisation with the methods by which territory may be acquired in international law and gain a working knowledge of the principles, problems and practicalities involved in ocean boundary-making. Students are appraised of the various debates existing in political and international studies over the importance of international boundaries and state territory.

    Conflict Prevention & Peace Building
    This module aims to impart knowledge, build analytical skills and sharpen the critical faculties required for effective policy making in the conflict prevention and peace making fields through engagement with the literature, policy analyses, seminar presentations and interaction with scholars and practitioners.

    Conflict Resolution in World Politics (20 Credits)
    The course will introduce students to some of the major models and methods for the resolution of international conflicts. It will first undertake a conceptual examination of what it means to 'resolve' a conflict and will then cover key approaches to conflict resolution, including mediation/negotiation, 'track II' diplomacy and problem-solving. Questions such as the impact of asymmetries of power and the timing of mediation will be investigated. In each instance the aim will be to highlight the relationship between theory and practice and how this is manifest in particular case-studies of conflict. The aim will be to develop in students an increased capacity for critical reflection on the conventions and perspectives on conflict resolution and their application to particular cases of conflict.

    Conflict, Development and Islam in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia
    The course provides an analytical and empirically informed treatment of the linkages between conflict, development and Islam in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It explores the origins and dynamics of wars and unresolved military conflicts in the region, and examines potential new sources of violence that might emerge both in the region, and in neighbouring countries. The course also analyses the challenges of economic development and the linkages of development and security in Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. The course also explores the dynamics of Islam, nationalism and extremist ideologies as they develop in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as the linkages between international terrorism, al Qaeda and Islam in Eurasia. Special attention is also given to the role played by the international community in addressing issue of conflict, security and development in the region.

    Deterrence in Theory and Practice
    The concept of deterrence was a cornerstone of cold war strategic studies, and its continued applicability is a matter of heated debate today. Questions raised by deterrence touch on many of the concerns motivating students of War Studies, including historical, ethical, and theoretical questions about war. This course uses deterrence as a lens to explore these larger issues. In particular, it will examine the following questions: What is deterrence, and what role has it played in the security policies of states? Has the viability of deterrence changed over time, and if so, have these changes been driven by changes in technology, by changes in the characteristics of states, or by other factors? To what extent do the theories of deterrence propounded by scholars capture the deterrent policies enacted by states? What determines the success or failure of deterrence in practice? Is deterrence an ethical strategy? The course will also expose students to various methodologies used in the social sciences, including comparative case studies, quantitative analysis and formal modelling.

    This course will examine the theory, art and practice of diplomacy, both as an instrument of foreign policy and an institution in the international system. It will analyse the way in which diplomacy, unlike most other aspects of international life, emphasises that which states have in common as well as those things which divide them. It will study diplomacy from the perspectives of politics, international law and history. In addition to this, it will look at the roles and functions of diplomacy regarding states and their policies, as well as the conduct of diplomacy in different forums and in different collective activities. The detailed substance of the course will focus inter alia on topics such as the following: diplomacy and intelligence; military diplomacy; summitry; mediation; the role of diplomacy in multilateral forums. Students will be encouraged to make use of case studies to illustrate general propositions about diplomatic theory and practice.

    Ethics in International Relations (20 Credits)
    This course will explore the reasons for ethics playing such a marginal role in traditional approaches to international relations. It will explore and evaluate major traditions of Political Ethics as these apply to international relations. In particular students taking this module will have an opportunity to consider the vigorous debates now taking place about the following ethical matters: intervention, secession, national self determination, sovereignty, the just war tradition in an age of 'New Wars', migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, global governance, and ethical approaches to the global environment.

    European (In)Security (20 credits)
    This course deals with the consequences of widening the security concept, the contribution of social constructivist and post-positivist approaches to security studies, and the transformation of contemporary security practices. The course focuses on the role of security policy in the construction of danger and the governance of society on the basis of unease and fear.

    Geopolitics of Natural Resource Disputes
    This module enables students develop a critical awareness of how the presence (real or rumoured) of natural resources may affect the alignment and alter the status of international boundaries on land and sea. Develop an appreciation of the issues involved in the conduct and management of international river disputes (both successive and divided international rivers). Review the manner in which the presence and location of hydrocarbons have affected the drawing of land and maritime boundaries and promoted the outbreak and resolution of associated disputes. Unravel the complexities of current resource and territorial disputes in the Caspian Sea, Gulf of Guinea, Persian Gulf and South China Sea. Promote an awareness of the range of international disputes in existence over the resources of the sea (primarily fishing and other environmental issues)

    Human Rights and Migration
    (20 credits)
    This course examines the development of migration rights as human rights in the European framework. Starting from the right of the state to control its borders and who is entitled to enter and reside on its territory, the course examines how, in the European context, migrants have acquired rights of movement and residence protected at the supra national level. Topics covered include citizenship, refugees and forced migration, family life and protection from expulsion.

    Human Rights in a World of States (20 credits)
    The aims of the course will be to introduce students to a particular way of thinking about the place of human rights in contemporary world politics, to launch an inquiry into the shortcomings of the way in which the discipline has traditionally dealt with the issue of human rights in an international context, to determine the usefulness of a human rights centred approach to the study of global politics and to explore the tension between human rights and sovereign states in the modern practices of international relations.

    International Peace Support Operations
    Since 1948 UN forces have been used for peaceful purposes to act between opposed armies in war zones and crisis areas. By the 1990s, the UN’s efforts to maintain international peace and security were increasingly focused on civil conflict and peacekeepers found themselves in an environment that was dangerous and complicated by the number of warring factions. The wars and violence of the 1990s took place in failing states and involved civil militias, warlords, child soldiers, starvation, displaced communities, looting on a massive scale and terrible human rights abuses. By 2000, troops from at least 75 nations were involved in international operations which deploy under the supervision of NATO, ECOMOG, CIS, OSCE and the UN. Contributing to international peaceforces has moved from being a peripheral and undemanding military activity to becoming a central defence requirement and a major item in national defence budgets. The purpose of this MA option is to explain how the concept of peacekeeping has changed since the contingencies of the Cold War period to cope with emergencies of the 1990s; to show how peace forces have grown in military power and changed their approach from being conciliatory to confrontational.

    International Political Economy (20 credits)
    The course provides an opportunity for students to engage with the linkages between international politics and international economics. Its aim is to provide an understanding of international political economy and the difference perspectives associated with this specialised field of knowledge. It covers issues such as global economic governance, globalisation and the role of the state in the international economy, the international trade order, the WTO, and the rise of regionalism, the international monetary system, and the IPE of development.

    International Politics of the Middle East

    The course explores the emergence and evolution of the Middle East system of states since 1945, through a framework of analysis that is partly historical and partly thematic. It covers the role of the great powers before, during, and since the Cold War, and explores the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the international politics of the Gulf. The course then surveys four main approaches to analysis of the foreign policies of Middle East states: assessing the role of state-society relations and political economy, and the impact of nationalism and of the balance of power on regional politics, alliance-building, and institutional cooperation. The politics of oil and of economic restructuring are then explored, followed by the politics of religious revival in the context of democratisation and of the military's role in the context of political change and economic transformation. This paves the way for an assessment of trends affecting peace, security, and stability in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War, and an overview of evolving US and European policies towards the region. The primary aim of the course is to provide a basic analytical understanding of political issues and historical processes in the Middle East. The secondary aim is to provide training in the critical reading of assigned texts and their use in writing.

    Nationalism and Security
    The aims of this course are to promote multidisciplinary understanding of concepts, issues and debates regarding nationalism and security and to encourage understanding of the interaction between statehood and population groups. Furthermore, the course examines the relationship between national political discourse and the peace-conflict axis and fosters conscious critical reading and discussion of issues of ethnicity, identity, statehood, self-determination and self-protection.

    Natural Resources & Conflict

    The aim of this module is to investigate all the ramifications of resource conflicts in developing societies, and to situate these within the nexus of security and development. Among others, the module focuses on the causes and nature of resource conflicts, their connection with local and global governance, the clash between local claims and national interest in resource politics, the link between international demand and pressures on local communities, the activities of warlords, the involvement of the international community in addressing these conflicts and the impact of globalisation on resource conflicts.

    Prosecuting War Crimes

    This course examines the establishment and conduct of international war crimes (including crimes against humanity) prosecutions. It evaluates the background to the emergence of war crimes as a concept in the 20th century, looking at martial, ethical and legal issues. It studies the creation of the first international tribunals following the Second World War and the issues which arose from these. The course examines the interaction between politics and law in the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the relationship of laws and rules to the social activity that is war.

    Reporting Wars
    As new information technology alters global communication the relationship between information, security and war fighting becomes increasingly important. This course analyses war reporting by drawing upon a range of historical and contemporary case studies. It looks at the influence of political leadership, organisational factors in media structures, and the roles and norms of journalists. The course explores in depth the relationship between the military and the media and how this relationship has been affected by recent technological changes and political developments. Special attention is given to media effects like the ‘CNN-effect’, i.e. the unmediated, live diffusion of images of tension, conflict and emergencies. The case studies examined include the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War and its aftermath.

    Science, Technology and Security Policy
    What role do developments in science and technology play in national security policy? Does the development of new technologies such as the ballistic missile and the nuclear weapon transform international security and require new policies, or is the development of new technologies driven by the security problems that states face? This course investigates these questions by examining developments at the intersection of science and security. It explores how scientific advances have influenced defence policy and international security in the past as well as preparing students to analyse the effects of current and future developments. To this end, it provides a basic grounding in the science underlying key weapons systems and security technologies, examines the role of science and scientists in the policy process, and through a series of case studies, prepares students to analyse the security implications of new technologies.

    Security & Migration in Europe in the 21st Century: An Uneasy Relationship
    This module provides students with a multidisciplinary approach to two key policy fields - security and migration. The module aims to develop students' critical understanding of how two different fields intersect and analyse the changes to each of the fields which take place through that intersection. It presents an overview on the relationship of law to policy in the two fields which will enrich students' analytical skills and ultimately be applicable in other domains. It also demonstrates and evaluates different modes of explanation in politics around security and migration.

    Security Issues in the Soviet Successor States
    This course seeks to develop a broad understanding of security issues in the former Soviet Union (FSU). In so doing, the course will examine traditional security concerns as well as new threats that have arisen in this region. The course will approach the concept of security from a perspective wider than that of military policy, to include crime, ecological issues as well as traditional doctrinal thinking and military developments. The course will examine the Soviet approach to security, which constitutes the historical and political background for thinking about security issues in the newly independent states. It will also introduce the main theoretical models to be developed for understanding Soviet politics. The course will proceed to examine Russian security policy, and the security issues and policies adopted by the other newly independent states. The development of armed forces and civil-military relations in each region will also be examined.

    Territorial and Boundary Dispute Resolution
    This module introduces students to contemporary and historical mechanisms for boundary territorial dispute resolution. Provide a practical understanding of the manner in which the World Courts gain jurisdiction to try territorial/boundary disputes and of the manner by which they have resolved them to date. Facilitate an appreciation of the range of underlying issues that characterise contemporary individual territorial disputes, from complex issues of decolonisation, through partition and secession to attempted annexation. Review in detail recent cases of international boundary settlement on land and sea, reached through remodule to bilateral negotiations, arbitration or judicial settlement and appreciate the arguments, principles and evidentiary issues that prevailed. Provide a basic familiarity with the types of primary evidence used in boundary territorial settlement before the international courts, typically documentary and cartographic materials held in the major London repositories.

    The Conduct of Contemporary Warfare
    The aim of this course will be to provide students with an understanding of contemporary military operations, in the light of economic, social, technological and political changes affecting the environment in which these operations take place. Conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be covered. The course will build on issues raised in the MA core and provide an opportunity for those students who wish to develop further their interest in contemporary strategic issues.

    The European Union in the World (20 Credits)
    This course explores the Union's identity outside its own borders. Hence it explores the Union's nature as an international actor; its various forms of external activity; and the ways it deploys its policies in different parts of the globe, from Europe to the Far East. The objectives are to ensure that students develop both an empirical familiarity with, and a conceptual understanding of the theory and practice of the Union's external activities and impacts.

    The Evolution of Insurgency
    This course explains the evolution of insurgency doctrine since 1948, tracing its major development phases and concluding with contemporary international intervention forces and their revised techniques of counter-insurgency. The aim of this course is to analyse the moral and legal arguments for and against the use of political violence and explain the relationship of urbanisation and social transition to the use of political violence; It provides a social and historical context from which to understand the application and utility of insurgency doctrine during the period of the Cold War; to analyse the reasons behind the proliferation of insurgent forms after the end of the Cold War; to conceptualise emerging trends of globally organised violence after 11th September 2000; to assess the principles which underwrite the development of counter-insurgency strategy and to practice critical analysis, independent judgement, oral and written presentation skills at a level commensurate with taught postgraduate study.

    The Meaning and Experience of Imperialism
    This course considers the conceptual difficulties involved with the term ‘imperialism’ in understanding current and past global conflict. Taking an historical perspective on the evolution of western European empires, it challenges many current definitions. Though the British Empire necessarily looms large, the course takes a comparative approach to western empires since the fifteenth century, examining the changing motivation, method, and perceived purpose of expansion. In this way, it will assess in particular the relative role of military asymmetry and of coercion in global history to the present day.

    The Occupied Territories since 1967
    Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights has now persisted for over thirty-eight years, during which time the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories has grown dramatically and Israeli control over the territories has been strengthened by the use of checkpoints, bypass roads, military operations and, most recently, the construction of a “security fence”, separating Palestinians from Israel and from one another. Palestinians perceive themselves to be a society under occupation. There are different views about the causes of this occupation, and even about whether "occupation" is an appropriate word to describe the situation in these areas. This course looks at the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights from 1967 to present as a case of Military Occupation. It analyses the methods used by Israelis and Palestinians in their struggle to control these disputed lands.

    The Politics of Intervention
    Drawing upon a wide range of historical and contemporary case studies, the course provides an empirically informed examination of the role and nature of intervention and the place of intervention in contemporary global politics. It explores historical and contemporary debates on the literature of intervention, and examines the motives behind, and the decision for, intervention, on the modality of such intervention, the political measures required to achieve the intervention purposes, the timing and the method of disengagement, and the outcome of intervention. The course is concerned with the structural as well as ideational aspects affecting key intervening actors, and to this end, the role of ideology and personalities, as well as the changing parameters of sovereignty, the declining value of the strategy of containment, and the issue of legitimacy in relation to international law and public opinion, will also be considered. The course will consider numerous case studies of major interventions, including the American-led UN intervention in the Korean Civil War (1950-1953), America’s involvement in the conflict in Vietnam (1965-1973), the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan (1979-1991), humanitarian interventions in the 1990s, such as in Somalia (1992-3) and Kosovo (1999), and the recent intervention in Iraq to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein.

    War, Criminality and Global Politics (20 credits)
    The aim of the course is to explore the subject of responsibility in time of war. The course will first be located within the wider remit of international relations and the ethics of war. It will evaluate the significance of the subject of war crimes within a discipline that conventionally defines the subject of politics as the state. It will explore the implications of taking the individual as the primary location of responsibility when actions are undertaken in time of conflict, and will consider responses to criminality in war from the establishment of war crimes tribunals to attempts at reconciliation between affected communities.

Other programs related to national and international security

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