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IR3057   Armaments and International Relations

Academic year(s): 2023-2024

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 9

Semester: 1

Planned timetable: Mon 12 noon

The goal of this module is to introduce students to academic debates and theoretical frameworks that give insights into the impact of armaments (their development, characteristics and proliferation) on international relations. As IR scholars have long recognized, the availability of modern armaments is a key determinant of the international distribution of power. Some have even gone so far as argue that the technological characteristics of armaments fundamentally determines the nature of the international state system. Meanwhile, certain policymakers and NGOs contend that arms dynamics (e.g. arms races and the spread of light weapons) contribute directly to the outbreak of wars. This course will equip students with the analytic tools needed to critically examine both these issues and others. To accomplish this objective, the module will examine broad theories about how the development of distribution of armaments affects the international state system. We will also focus on the particular issue of whether the 'excessive' production and/or availability of armaments can cause wars. Finally, we will examine how contemporary phenomena -the globalization and Europeanization of arms production - are shaping this particular domain. Ultimately, the understanding that students will gain through this course will enhance their development as political scientists and their ability to work in fields as diverse as: government, NGOs, international organizations, and the corporate sector.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass IR2006

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 1 x 1-hour lecture (x 10 weeks), 1 x 1-hour tutorial (x 10 weeks), 2 consultation hours with Coordinator (x 12 weeks). 2 hours examination feedback in week 1 of following semester.

Scheduled learning hours: 22

Guided independent study hours: 278

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: Coursework = 100%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 0%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 100%

Re-assessment: 3-hour Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator: Dr N Rossi
Module teaching staff: Dr Norma Rossi

Intended learning outcomes

  • Know how to use IR theory to understand and appreciate how armaments shape world politics.
  • Be able to assess whether armaments, in and of themselves, contribute to the outbreak of conflicts.
  • Be able to evaluate the impact of recent and proposed international armaments agreements (i.e. restricting arms sales, banning categories of weaponry, and limiting weapons inventories) on international relations.
  • Know the fundamental ideas of a number of prominent IR scholars who have addressed the role of armaments.
  • Be able to critically engage texts and ideas in tutorial sessions and written essays.