Master Science & Security

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  • Objectives
    The programme is designed to provide students with an integrated understanding of science and international politics to cope with the demands of the emerging security agenda.
  • Entry requirements
    The programme is designed for those who wish to work at the interface of science and security policy. It will be of scientific interest to: students with a 'hard science' background and with an interest in security issues; students of politics, history, international relations and strategic studies; those with practical experience in the scientific field who may wish to reflect on the wider issues and implications of their experience or who may wish to make a career change from research to a policy-oriented field; professionals in areas such as defence, diplomacy and foreign affairs who work on issues where science and technology set limits and offer opportunities to the policy maker.
  • Academic title
    MA Science & Security
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - The Department of War Studies is unique in the UK and one of very 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.

    There is an increased need in today's world to understand the security implications of scientific and technological developments. While science and technology have always affected national and international security, current developments in the fields of space, nuclear weapons, and long-range missiles as well as work in emerging fields such as biotechnology and information technology suggest that the impact of science on security is becoming more diverse as well as more central to policy planners. At the same time, individuals and sub-national groups have more access to new technologies than ever before.

    The programme is designed to provide students with an integrated understanding of science and politics to cope with the demands of the emerging security agenda. This involves developing an understanding of the science underlying key weapons systems and technologies, the main concepts and tools of international politics and security studies, and the process by which scientists and policymakers can interact productively in the policy process. The goal is to equip students to analyse the impact of current and future scientific developments on security.

    Students will have the opportunity to build on the core courses in Science and Security to focus on aspects of the historical and contemporary international security environment through optional courses and a dissertation on an approved topic.

    The MA programme contains the following elements:
    · Three compulsory core modules, 'The Science of Security', 'Introduction to Security Studies', and 'Case Studies in Science and Security' (worth 60 credits in total);
    · Optional modules chosen from a range of possibilities (worth 60 credits in total) ;
    · A dissertation of 15,000 words (worth 60 credits).

    'The Science of Security' and 'Introduction to Security Studies' are to be taken in the first term. They are then followed by 'Case Studies in Science and Security' in the second term. The dissertation is to be written over the Summer Term. You may choose your own topic but it must address some aspect of the science and security interface and must be approved by a member of staff. Part-time students are advised to take the core modules in their first year of study and write their dissertation in their second year.

    Programme format and assessment
    Continuous assessment by essay; examinations and a dissertation of 15,000 words.

    Programme modules for MA Science & Security 

    Case Studies in Science and Security
    (0.5 CU) (Core Module)
    This course examines a series of case studies in science and security. Using the knowledge and tools gained in ‘The Science of Security’ and ‘Introduction to Security Studies,’ it investigates how scientific developments have influenced international security in the past as well as preparing students to analyse the effects of current and future developments.

    Introduction to Security Studies (0.5 CU) (Core Module)
    This course provides an introduction to the key concepts and theories in Security Studies, as well as providing practice in using these tools to analysis events in international politics. It thus provides some of the conceptual and analytic tools students will need to evaluate the security implications of scientific and technological developments. We begin with the notion of security itself, and then proceed to examine realism and its critics, offence-defence theory, and deterrence. We then turn to specific issues within the field of security studies, including the causes of war, the determinants of military strategy, and proliferation.

    The Science of Security (20 Credits) (Core Module)
    This course provides a basic understanding of the science necessary to analyse the impact of science and technology on security. It also examines the role of science and scientists in the policy process. The course begins with the science of advanced weapons, examining nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as delivery systems. We then examine the science of remote sensing to detect capabilities ranging from WMD facilities to individual soldiers, and at the possibilities for preventing such detection. We also examine issues of design optimisation and overspecification as well as topics of current interest related to the course. We end the course by looking at questions such as the ethical behaviour of a scientist working in the security arena.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Diplomacy, Intelligence and Armaments Competition: The origins of the Second World War, 1931-1941
    This option explores the origins of the Second World War in Europe, Asia and the Pacific in the period 1931-41. This tragic decade of international upheaval, crisis and war provides historians with a rich source for the study of international politics. Was appeasement, for example, a cowardly policy selected by naïve politicians or a strategy of containment? Was Japan provoked into war by the imperial and economic policies of the western powers? Was the European war of 1939 Hitler's war or was the German dictator propelled into war by a 'domestic crisis'? What role did intelligence and armaments competition play in the coming of war?

    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.

    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.

    Scientific and Technical Intelligence (20 credits)
    Drawing upon a range of historical and contemporary case studies, this course is designed to give students an understanding of the way in which scientific and technical intelligence has evolved from its origins in the Second World War, to the present day. In tracing these developments, the course will seek to explore the nature of scientific and technical intelligence, which revolves around the interaction between scientists, the scientific establishments, and the intelligence agencies. It will focus on scientific and technical intelligence both in terms of the development of intelligence technology, but also the scientific nature of the target. It will use a variety of case studies to explore and illustrate persistent issues related to the study of scientific and technical intelligence.

    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.

    The aims of this course are to explore the nature of strategy and the manner in which it is shaped by sociopolitical influences, encourage critical engagement with the scholarly literature on the subject of strategy, foster amongst students the capacity for analysis, judgement and communication at a level commensurate with taught postgraduate study. Please note that this is not a course about the ‘mechanics of war’ and that there is minimal operational or tactical content. Nor does it embrace the methods and assumptions of traditional military history. Those who feel uncomfortable with an explicit theoretical approach to the study of war may not find it to their liking. Please note that there is some commonality of subject matter with SWM118 ‘Clausewitz: Ideas and Legacy’. As a result, students who choose this option may not take the Clausewitz option.

    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 JIC and British Intelligence
    Drawing upon a range of historical and contemporary case studies, this course is designed to give students an understanding of the origins and evolution of the modern British intelligence machinery. In tracing the developments of the various agencies that constitute British intelligence, the course will seek to explore the nature of British intelligence, which revolves around the workings of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). In doing so it will focus on the disciplines of intelligence (signals intelligence, human intelligence, espionage etc), as well as its products. It will focus on the effects of intelligence gathering on decision making, particularly in the realm of national security and military policy. It will use a variety of case studies to explore and illustrate persistent issues related to the study of intelligence.

    The Proliferation of Weapons
    This course provides a comprehensive view of the proliferation challenges in the areas of nuclear, chemical, biological, conventional weapons and ballistic missiles. It considers the reasons why states and non-state groups might seek Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles. It examines the conventional arms trade in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods and analyses the problem of landmine proliferation. It assesses the utility of the various measures available which are designed to inhibit proliferation: export controls, arms control, regime formation, multilateral arrangements, regional initiatives, defensive military responses, international law, etc.
    One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

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