Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: War and the Politics of Victory (PLIT10149)

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
SummaryInternational politics often involves conflict and war. Why groups resort to organized violence, how those conflicts unfold, and how and when they end often depends on ideas about victory - or what it means and what it looks like to 'win' a war. Using case studies from a variety of regions and historical periods and combining research spanning several sub-fields of International Relations, this course explores the strategic, ethical, and political dimensions of victory in war. It will introduce students to a number of ways to think about and assess victory as a strategic goal, an ethical dilemma, and a political challenge involving practical choices and very human consequences
Course description The idea that war is all about winning has been deeply lodged in popular consciousness for centuries, with a host of prominent thinkers and politicians attesting to its central role in armed conflict - why take up arms if not to win, and often to win a specific political outcome? Yet while victory is central to the idea and conduct of war, practitioners and scholars alike struggle to grasp its full strategic, ethical, and political importance. This course offers a sustained engagement with victory and the politics of war along each of these avenues. Students will gain not only an appreciation of how and why victory matters to war in general, but also the ability to analyze the political role of victory in strategic, normative, and security terms by engaging with theoretical and empirical literature across strategic studies, international ethics and just war, and critical security studies. By learning to focus on the meaning and consequences of victory in these ways, students will begin to see military strategy, ethical and legal deliberations, and the wider political consequences of war differently and more clearly.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have taken at least one core International Relations course
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% - The tutorial participation grade will be assessed on informed participation, including students' capacity to engage in discussions based on the assigned readings, as well as listen to and engage with other students in the group
30% - Literature review essay (1500 words, comparing and assessing two literatures on their treatment of victory (e.g. strategic and normative))
60% - Research essay (3000 words, combining theoretical argument and empirical evidence) - students will conduct a case study essay involving the analysis of two wars of their choosing, assessing these against a body of literature they have not discussed in the first assessment
Feedback Preparatory guidance will be provided in seminar to help students initiate their research projects (consisting of a literature review and an essay). Written feedback on each assessment will be returned before the next assessment deadline wherever possible. Participation feedback will be delivered at end of term with mark.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical understanding of the meaning and importance of victory to the conduct of war and its role in international politics.
  2. Analyze and understand war as a strategic, ethical, and political challenge, using appropriate analytical tools.
  3. Unpack and compare different theoretical and rhetorical terms and to track their political impacts.
  4. Combine theory with evidence in the development of an argument.
Reading List
G. Blum (2013) 'The Fog of Victory' European Journal of International Law 24(1):391-421.
B. Bond (1996) The Pursuit of Victory (Oxford UP)
A.R. Hom, C. O'Driscoll, and K. Mills, eds. (2017) Moral Victories: The Ethics of Winning Wars (Oxford UP).
W. Martel (2007) Victory in War (Cambridge UP).
C. O'Driscoll (2019) Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Just War (Oxford UP).
R. Wagner-Pacifici (2005) The Art of Surrender (University of Chicago Press)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Improved conceptualization skills and ability to absorb and contrast disparate theoretical arguments.
- Enhanced research and presentation skills as a result of the combination of in-class material and discussion, and its link to the course assignments.
- Advanced ability to interpret and understand political developments with the aid of theoretical tool-set acquired.
- Ability to synthesize diverse research literatures with empirical evidence.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Hom
Tel: (0131 6)50 4688
Course secretaryMr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information