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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Armed Force and Society (STIS10005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 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.
Course description 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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. The notion of a military-industrial complex, and to what extent the arms industries of industrialised nations are responsible for conflict around the world;
  4. 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
  5. The terrorist threat, and to what extent technology can help stop it.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Richard Brodie
Tel: (0131 6)50 4278
Course secretaryMr Colin Arthur
Tel: (0131 6)51 3737
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