The Arms Trade in International Politics (L7095S)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

You investigate the social and international relations of the arms trade.

You may already be familiar with allegations of corruption, human rights violations and war profiteering associated with the arms trade. You may also have heard justifications in terms of national security, international alliances and jobs.

You analyse these, and other, claims through a series of historically and theoretically informed case studies.

We ask:

  • What are the main features of global patterns of arms production and transfers?
  • How have these patterns developed historically?
  • What international relations are fostered through arms transfers, and (how) have these changed over time?
  • How is military production embedded in the economic, political and social life of societies and states?
  • What efforts at arms regulation, control and abolition are in play, and how effective are they?

Sample case studies include:

  • the production, transfer and use of drones in the 'war on terror'
  • Chinese arms transfers to African states and new forms of international hierarchy
  • arms transfers to the Middle East and the supposed 'tension' between human rights and weapons sales
  • the institutionalisation of a world military order through the UN Arms Trade Treaty.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Essay, Group presentation)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 36 hours of contact time and 264 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2018/19. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: