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War and Modern Society


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Jasmine Bhatia
  • Assessment: a 1000-word seminar log (20%), a 3500-word essay (70%) and two online quizzes (10%)

Module description

War is one of the oldest features of social life and one whose recurrence seems to endure in spite of all the political, social and cultural transformations it has traversed. Yet war is simultaneously never quite the same since its various manifestations are necessarily conditioned by the characteristics of the societies that wage it.

In this module we consider the complex relationships and dynamics which have interwoven the experience and practice of warfare to the past, present and future development of states, societies and the individuals who inhabit them.

We look particularly at the role of war in shaping political, social and cultural modernity through an exploration of:

  • its interplay with processes of state formation
  • its relationship to the industrialisation of societies and their uses of science and technology
  • its place within political and international relations theory
  • its role in shaping historical consciousness and both individual and group identities.

The personal and collective experience of war, its mediation and representation, and the uses of memory will also be considered.

While we seek to contextualise war within its wider historiography, present issues such as the War on Terror, weapons of mass destruction, the revolution in military affairs, asymmetric warfare, humanitarian war, and genocide will also be covered.

You will acquire both a deeper understanding of the role of armed conflict in the history of the modern world than that provided by traditional accounts focused on great battles and military leaders as well as a set of conceptual tools and lenses with which to grasp and analyse the multi-faceted manifestations of war today.