Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Courses: Strategic Theory

Okay, so a bit of background. I'm enrolled in the MSc, formerly the MLitt, in Strategic Studies. This consists of two courses during the Autumn semester, two courses during the Spring semester, and the dissertation during the Summer semester. This year, a new option has been introduced that combines the Strategic Studies curriculum with the Law curriculum to produce an MSc in Strategic Studies and International Law. The result is that all students in either program share one course, Strategic Theory. Beyond that, the two programs diverge, with traditional Strategic Studies students all taking Strategic Intelligence, and Strategic Studies and International Law students taking The Evolution of International Law in a World of Crises. There will be similar splits during the Spring semester.

For Strategic Theory (which is taught by The Director), the agenda is as follows:

  • Strategy and Security
  • Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and Van Creveld
  • The Conduct of War 1648 - 1945
  • The Military Instrument
  • The Democratic Peace
  • Deterrence
  • Limited War
  • Alliance
  • Arms Control
  • Military Intervention
  • Unconventional War and Terrorism
  • Counter-Insurgency
  • Economic Sanctions

    The Director will lecture on each of these topics, and his lectures will be followed several weeks later by an individual or team presentation on each topic, to include a 2500 word memorandum. I'll be doing my team presentation on Counter-Insurgency with CN Odin. I get the impression that everyone is looking forward to it. There's also an in-class essay later this month on one of the following four topics:

    1) What is strategy, and how useful is strategic analysis in national security policy-making?
    2) Identify the tenets of the strategic thought of two of the following: Sun Tzu, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and Van Creveld. Assess their validity to modern conditions of conflict.
    3) Explain why and how the conduct of war was transformed between 1815 and 1914.
    4) Consider the view that the use of the military instrument is no longer a viable foreign policy option.

    At present, I plan to write on option three, as it draws on many of my strengths from my long-term study of military history.

    The final examination will take place in January, and will take three hours. For both this and the in-class essay, I'll be drawing on my years as a history undergrad, and particularly the influence of one professor in particular whose exams are my single leading risk factor in the development of carpal tunnels syndrome later in life.

    For textbooks, the Director has prescribed the following:

  • John Baylis et al.: Strategy in the Contemporary World
  • Colin Gray: Modern Strategy
  • Elinor C. Sloan: Modern Military Strategy: An Introduction

    The Director actually told me and a classmate that it's physically impossible to read all three of them, plus all of the articles he's prescribed, but recommended that we take a sample of them. That's extremely refreshing, particularly compared to other courses I've taken in the past in which hundreds upon hundreds of pages of reading were prescribed with the expectation that students would retain all of it.

    Is it safe to assume that I'm quite pleased to be here, doing all of this?
  • No comments:

    Post a Comment