International relations

Irregular Warfare

Module code: 959M1
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

This module aims to provide you with a strong foundation in the conceptual, strategic and ethical issues related to irregular warfare. While looking at in-depth historical case studies of irregular warfare, the module will reveal how varieties of irregular warfare have risen to prominence during the 20th century. This module will, in particular, trace the evolutionary phases of insurgency and counter-insurgency from the Maoist version of the 'people's war' in China to the development of global jihad.

The module will particularly focus on the dilemmas and problems that conventional militaries have faced in trying to adapt to irregular warfare and explore the issue of whether or not the military is the ideal instrument in defeating insurgencies. This module, furthermore, aims to familiarise you with the sub-types of irregular warfare. It is useful to have a basic knowledge of 20th-century history, as this will comprise some of the case study subject matter discussed in this seminar, but this is not indispensable as background readings will be provided for any of the cases examined.

Module learning outcomes

  • A comprehensive understanding of the conceptual issues associated with the definition and study of irregular warfare, and particularly, of insurgency and counter-insurgency.
  • An awareness of the competing theories and practices of irregular warfare.
  • An understanding of the kinds of predicaments, including political and ethical dilemmas, produced by irregular warfare activities.
  • Develop key research as well as written and oral skills through research papers and oral presentations in the seminar programme.