DL Optional Modules
Distance learning students take one option module in each of their subsequent semesters. The optional modules currently offered are as follows, though please note that some modules may not be available each semester. New modules may also be introduced.
- America and the World: The Making of US Foreign Policy
- American Interventionism since the end of the Cold War
- Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union
- Diplomatic Systems
- EU Enlargement and Democratic Consolidation in Post-Communist Europe
- Governance and Corruption
- Human Rights, Ethics and War in the Post Cold War Order
- Intelligence and Security
This module considers various approaches to the study and understanding of American foreign policy. Following an introduction to relevant theoretical and historical literature, the main institutions of, and influences on, the US foreign policy-making process will be considered. Case-studies will be included, covering both the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. The course will culminate in an assessment of the nature, extent and likely development of American global power.
This module will consider the utility of intervention – military and non-military – for the United States in the modern, post-Cold War era. Is US interventionism reactive or the product of a coordinated world view? Is the US better understood as a conservative, isolationist power or as a liberal, activist power? The impact of 9/11 on US foreign policy is a central concern of the module. Several cases studies of American intervention – from Somalia and Haiti to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the competing interpretations of these actions – form the basis for discussion and research.
Democracy and legitimacy are both central concepts to discussions about the future of the European Union (EU). This module is therefore designed to help you develop an understanding of how the EU performs as a political system and to evaluate critically the democratic and administrative deficits in the EU. You will consider the main institutions of the EU, the sources of the EU’s legitimacy and questions of public opinion and institutional design.
The general aims of this module are to examine (a) the conditions in which diplomacy is stimulated, (b) the nature of the different diplomatic systems that arise as a result of variations in these conditions, and (c) how the effectiveness of a diplomatic system is best judged. It then proceeds by looking first at diplomacy operation in various historical and contemporary case studies. Including the 'French system' of diplomacy, that is, the diplomatic system of Europe from the seventeenth century until the First World War, as well as a detailed examination of the Anglo-American system of Diplomacy.
The module examines the interplay of domestic and international factors in determining the effects of regime transition and the success of democratisation in post-communist Europe. It focuses in particular on the influence of the EU, and the transformation of the 10 Central and East European states which have already become members (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), while also looking at potential members in the Western Balkans, the European Neighbourhood Policy and relations with Russia. It considers both the common and the individual political problems facing the states of Central and Eastern Europe, and investigates the challenges posed by the attempt to integrate them into an undivided Europe. The approach is comparative, and should also prove useful in studying the consolidation of democracy in other parts of the globe.
The overall intellectual aims of the module are to arm students with the analytical tools to conceptualise different types of political corruption; introduce students to some of the methods used to measure corruption across time and space; analyse the cultural and socio-economic contexts that prompt the emergence of different types of corrupt activity; assess the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies that are propagated by international organisations and national governments; and to analyse corrupt behaviour across developed and developing countries.
This module engages with the key debates in contemporary international relations about war, intervention, human rights and sovereignty. Since the end of the Cold War it has become increasingly accepted that powerful nations have a right and responsibility to intervene on behalf of others. The formal framework for international relations as codified in the UN Charter is argued to be a ‘tyrant’s charter’, in which the stated commitments to sovereign equality and non-intervention simply serve to undermine human rights. For supporters of humanitarian intervention, state-centric ethics have dominated for too long. For supporters of human rights and humanitarian intervention the post-Cold War era is permitting a shifting of moral boundaries away from the state and the national community towards more cosmopolitan conceptions of community and the extension of rights and justice beyond the state border. In this module we will consider this shift in both theory and in international politics.
The events of 9/11 and the subsequent ‘war on terror’ have made intelligence more central to the study of politics and international relations than at any time previously, reviving old debates and generating new ones. This module considers key issues relating to intelligence. What exactly is ‘intelligence’? Who seeks to develop it, why and how? Why does it fail? Is a degree of failure inevitable? How accountable are intelligence services? How accountable should they be? The module also considers the role of intelligence in specific national and historical contexts – for example, intelligence and political culture in the UK and US, intelligence under communism, and intelligence and the Northern Ireland conflict – and examines contemporary debates concerning intelligence failure relating to the 9/11 attacks, the decision to go to war in Iraq and the July 2005 London bombings.
Migrations are not an isolated phenomenon; large scale movements of people arise from the accelerated process of global integration, global cultural interchange and are facilitates by political changes, improved transport, the electronic media and well-organised smugglers’ networks. Although international migration is not an invention of the 20th century, this course will look at contemporary international migrations and the way they are changing contemporary European political and social spaces. We will look at the interplay between forces of political and social regulation and forces of social agency which respectively constrain and enable migrants to create spaces of control in the receiving countries. We will also look at challenges this phenomenon poses for national and European citizenship given the increasing cultural heterogeneity, the diversity of ethno-national identities and the growing awareness of the de facto multicultural character of its member states.
This module explores South Africa’s foreign relations during the apartheid era, 1948-1994. It will examine the extent of South Africa’s isolation during that period and the various attempts it made to break out of that isolation. More specifically, it will consider relations with the West generally, with the superpowers, and the emergence of the so-called ‘pariah alliance’ with Israel and Taiwan. Particular attention will be paid to apartheid South Africa’s relations with neighbouring states in the southern Africa region and the various strategies it deployed to gain their acceptance or co-operation. The module will also consider South Africa’s relationship with particular international organisations such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth.
This module provides students with a comprehensive introduction to debates about the threat, use and management of military force in international relations. It explores core concepts such as the legality of the use of force; deterrence, coercive diplomacy; intelligence; weapons of mass destruction; the changing nature of warfare; and strategic culture. Whilst focusing on the key dynamics of strategy and warfare in the contemporary world, the module also locates these key technological, social and political dynamics within the broader perspectives of warfare and strategic thinking throughout history.
Protection is central to the theory and practice of politics. From social contract theory and the consolidation of the modern state to cosmopolitan theory, human rights and state-building, protection remains a central concept. This module sets out to examine the scope and limits of protection in contemporary international politics, asking about the agents, relationships and norms that help protect individual persons and groups from a range of ‘threats’ and other sources of harm. The module also offers students an insight into the substantial and increasingly prominent international concern of statelessness. In so doing the module examines the theory and practice of nationality and discrimination and their implications for protection of vulnerable individuals and groups.
This module provides a critical survey of the main theories associated with the study of international relations, from ‘orthodox’ approaches such as Realism and Liberalism to more radical theories including Marxism, Postmodernism and Gender-based approaches. The module is primarily concerned with the varying theoretical explanations for why things happen in international relations. It will discuss the general properties of IR theory and its evolution since the foundation of the discipline of International Relations after World War One, along with a focus on the significance of, and relations between states and non-state actors, and the impact of the international structures that constrain and direct the actions of these actors. The module will also relate the study of IR theory both to wider theoretical debates within the social sciences, and to developments in contemporary history.