Undergraduate Course: Armed Force and Society (STIS10005)
|School of Social and Political Science
|College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)
|SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
|Available to all students
|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.
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.
Max Boot, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today (Gotham, 2006).
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).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
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 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
|A midterm short essay (25%) and a long essay (75%)
|Assessment will be by a short essay (25%) and a long essay (75%). The short essay is set to focus on a single controversial issue within the course. Essay questions are set by me, or you can design one yourself in consultation with me. The second essay is a longer piece of work, 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 both the short essay and the long essay can be submitted for comment. Students are encouraged to set their own long question which requires consultation and approval.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- How the fog of war increases the scope for social and political factors to shape knowledge of the effects of military technology. 2. The tendency to prepare to fight the last war, and how this shapes the design and interpretation of testing in weapons development;
- The role that politics, and especially bureaucratic politics, play in the development of weapons systems. 2. The debate over the increasing use of high technology by the military, including what has been termed cyberwar, and the question of whether these high-tech approaches are effective;
- The notion of a military-industrial complex, and to what extent the arms industries of industrialised nations are responsible for conflict around the world;
- The legacy of the Cold War and the reliance on nuclear deterrence. 2.The factors that contribute to the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the options for preventing this
- The terrorist threat, and to what extent technology can help stop it.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Mr Richard Brodie
Tel: (0131 6)50 4278
|Mr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197