Postgraduate Course: Armed Force and Society (PGSP11245)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course explores the relationship between armed force and society. A main focus will be on the on the role of technology in the politics and social dynamics of armed conflict. Technology, whether it be machetes or nuclear weapons, lies at the heart of conflict, and this course uses a range of perspectives, to investigate the nature and impact of armed force. These theoretical perspectives will be exemplified through the extensive use of case studies, and no prior theoretical or specialist technical knowledge is required. The course has a particular emphasis on nuclear weapons and the Cold War, but also covers issues such as terrorism, the arms trade, and the Revolution in Military Affairs.
The main focus of the course is sociological and political perspectives on the relationship between human societies and military technologies, which we explore via discussion of a wide range of historical case studies and contemporary security issues including discussion and analyses of the distinctive nature of military technologies and the way they are shaped by social and political factors. An analyses of the role played by military technology in shaping the nature and outcome of conflicts, as well as the nature of peacetime society will be included alongside an investigation of the ways that knowledge about military technology is derived, and of the effects that high levels of military R&D have had on economic activity, and scientific agendas.
1. Air Power and Intervention
In this session, we discuss the Revolution in Military Affairs and the role technology has played in the changing tactics of modern day warfare.
2. Nuclear Weapons and the Cold War: Deterrence
In this session, Deterrence Theory is assessed and evaluated.
3. Armed Force, War and Society
This session takes a look at the impact of technology, war and the Military on society, highlighting the sociological response to these important issues.
4. Cyber War and the Robot Revolution
The impact of drones has been enormous. We examine the political and moral implications of the use of this technology.
5. Terrorism and Technology
Asymmetric warfare and terrorism has been transformed by technology. This session charts that transformation.
6. Proliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction
Would the world with more nuclear weapons be a safer place? We analyse the realist notion on the proliferation of nuclear weapons
7. The Development of New Weapons Technology
New weapons technology, it is argued, is socially constructed. This session looks at the pros and cons of this argument.
8. The Defence Industry
Clearly, the defence industry plays a crucial role in the development of technology.
9. Weapons Development: The Technical Imperative, Rational Actors and Bureaucracy
This session looks at the three factors that are crucial in weapons development and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each.
10. Cold War Science: Technology and Academia
Universities and academics and their long connection with new technology will be scrutinised in this session. Do the Military undermine academic neutrality or the other way round?
The course is hands-on, taught through lectures and seminars. You will conduct your own research into technology and write it up for assessment in the final long essay. It is taught through in-class activities including debates and class discussion. I encourage you to make connections between theory, research and contemporary issues. The course is cross-discipline and open to students with backgrounds in social sciences, natural sciences and the humanities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 22,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||A long essay of 4000 words
||Assessment will be by a long essay 0f 4000 words (100%). Essay questions are set by you in consultation with me. The essay is to reflect independent research, examining a topic in more detail and giving you the chance to research and develop your argument in an area of your own interest. The aim of the assessment is to allow you to expand your own ideas and topics, demonstrate your ability to analyse relevant issues and draw on and synthesise relevant evidence.
Formative assessment: Plans and discussions on the long essay will be submitted for comment and include two one to one sessions to discuss your ideas and suggestions. Approval of your question and your plan will be required.
|No Exam Information
| On successful completion of the course, students will have demonstrated through written work, oral presentations and other contributions in class, that they
- have a substantive knowledge and understanding of a selection of important policy and social issues with regard to the development and use of military technologies, and of the contending viewpoints and claims on these issues;
- can identify and characterise key approaches from social science disciplines and from interdisciplinary fields like science and technology studies to understanding and evaluating issues concerning military technology, and identify advantages, problems and implications of these approaches;
- can critically evaluate contributions to the academic, political and public debates on national security issues, and decisions on them;
- can identify, deploy and evaluate a selection of techniques and procedures used in defence policy analysis, decision-making and assessment;
- have developed their skills
- in finding and using arguments and information;
- in critically evaluating such material; and
- in essay writing and seminar presentation
|Indicative only, may be subject to change|
A very short summary of issues to with military technology is Graham Spinardi, 'Weapons' in The Encyclopedia of Global Studies (Sage, 2011).
An excellent reader on technology in general, with a section on the military, is Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman (eds.), The Social Shaping of Technology (Open University Press, Second Edition, 1999).
A good readable history, that we will draw on particularly in weeks 1 and 2, is Max Boot, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today (Gotham, 2006).
Other useful historical surveys are William McNeill, The Pursuit of Power (Blackwell, 1983) and Martin van Creveld, Technology and War: From 2000 BC to the Present (The Free Press, 1989).
Barry Buzan and Eric Herring, The Arms Dynamic in World Politics (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998) provides the best coverage of the theoretical issues dealt with in the course.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Mr Richard Brodie
Tel: (0131 6)50 4278
|Course secretary||Miss Jemma Auns
Tel: (0131 6) 50 24 56