Armed Conflicts and the Politics of the 21st Century
“War is what happens when language fails.” ― Margaret Atwood
At a Glance
- Live online course
- 2 hours a week
- Monday 18:00 - 20:00
- 10 weeks: January to March
- Tutor: Dr Pedro Rubio Teres
- Fees from £125 to £210
- Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
The field of International Relations has long focused on the security of states and how best to preserve a peaceful balance of power among them. In the twentieth century, decolonisation processes led to a dramatic increase in the number of nation states. However, when many of them achieved their independence they were left lacking the crucial infrastructures, diversified productive sectors and human capital necessary to grow and provide for their populations.
In this course we will investigate the problems faced by a number of countries in the post-Second World War period as they sought to achieve stability and find their place in the world. We will consider development projects which set out to raise living standards and the problems that arose from Cold War politics as the east and west and their development agencies sought to “steer” newly independent states into their orbit and the connections this created between development and security.
As we shall see, since the end of the Cold War the concept of ‘security’ has been broadened and deepened to reflect a growing recognition of the fact that, for many people worldwide, the major source of harm does not emanate from other states but from concerns such as climate change, civil conflict, disease, malnutrition and authoritarianism.
Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.
1. The evolution of International Security from 1945 to 9/11
What are the major sources of insecurity in the twenty-first century? Evolving understandings of security and insecurity and the concept of ‘human security’. Political and socioeconomic factors that have constrained security from WWII. The notion of ‘International Security’ and the related terminology used in international relations
2. The geopolitics of conflict from 9/11
How did the ‘war on terror’ itself come about? What were the underlying ideas taken ‘into’ the ‘war on terror’? And how did the prosecution of that war draw upon (and reconfigure) traditional geopolitical ideas?
3. Perspectives on Security Studies: sovereignty, globalization and conflict
Can nation-states be truly sovereign in a world of conflict? How does globalization impact sovereignty? Does globalization wither away or thrive in the face of conflict? How is globalisation promoted by war? Sovereign states’ vulnerability to globalisation from the perspective of war.
4. The historical evolution of war
What place does military force have in the making of contemporary international relations? Can theory help in understanding the causes of war, and if so, can we elaborate models with a high predicting potential? When do we know if we are at war or at peace? How, why and to what extent has the use of military force changed?
5. Terrorism and war on terror. The prevalence of asymmetric conflicts
Is transnational terrorism the new weapon of the weak? is it so simple to understand global terrorism in terms of “us” vs “them”? What separates the likes of ISIS from ‘old’ terrorist organisations such as the IRA? What’s behind the perpetuation of conflict in Afghanistan?
6. Ethnic conflicts and genocide
Threats and insecurities that have arisen in the postcolonial territories. Contemporary problems of ethnic and religious conflicts in Asian regions, their origins, specific features and factors influencing their emergence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The eve of India and Pakistan’s violent partition at independence.
7. New threats to security: nuclear proliferation, transnational threats and the ‘new wars’
Transnational threats such as health pandemics, climate change, scarcity of natural resources or arm trafficking. Which wars are ‘new wars’? How are nationalism and ethnicity implicated in these new wars? The case of Russian intervention in Ukraine.
8. The role of the United Nations and International Organisations
Why are the IMF, WTO and the EU classed as neoliberal institutions? What are the pros and cons of the economic order they have helped to usher in? Are human rights a matter of domestic or international politics? What are the impediments for a better functioning of the UN Security Council and the Peace Operations?
9. Military Treaties: NATO
Security policies of the main military powers and their allies. Historical account of the North-Atlantic Treaty emerging from the earlier animosity between US and USSR. Comparison to the Warsaw Pact. What will happen to international stability as US leadership declines or turns away from these responsibilities.
10. New wars: Intervention vs non-intervention in the Syrian Civil War
A geographical area home to the most intractable agglomeration of conflicts: the Middle East. The origins and dynamics of the Syrian civil war: ‘The Arab Spring’. Main actors and interventions made in Syria: the use of force by the United States and Russia. Arguments in favor and against foreign intervention in Syria?
This programme may be subject to change.
There is no compulsory reading required for this course and there is no set course text.
Please ask the tutor if you would like suggestions for reading.
Pedro Teres has an academic and professional background in Mathematical Sciences, although he has been engaged with Social Politics and International Relations for the past ten years. This combination has provided him with a deep understanding on the social impact of scientific discovery and the logic challenges of socio-political discourse. He teaches Political Science and related subjects at Imperial and other universities in London and has conducted extensive fieldwork in armed conflicts, namely in former Soviet countries and the Middle East. He has participated in several initiatives with the European Parliament and the UNHRC among other intergovernmental institutions and works closely with civil society movements as a passionate political activist.
Course Delivery Method: Live Online (Zoom)
All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.
All times stated are British Standard Time.
To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.
This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.
Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.
We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.
Course Fees and Rate Categories
|Hours||Weeks||Standard Rate||Internal Rate||Associate Rate|
|20||10|| £210 (≡£10.50 per hour)
||£125 (≡£6.25 per hour)||£165 (≡£8.25 per hour)|
|All fee rates quoted and due are for the whole course. Part-payments are not possible. Equivalent to hourly rate is for comparison guidance only. There is no early-bird discount for January intake courses.|
Rate Categories and Discounts
- Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.
- Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
- Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
- Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
- Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact firstname.lastname@example.org before completing the online enrolment form
- Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
- Austrian Cultural Forum staff
- City & Guilds College Association members
- Cooperative College Members
- Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
- Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
- Harrods staff
- Historic Royal Palaces staff
- Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
- Members of the Friends of Imperial College
- Members of the Kennel Club
- Members of the London Zoological Society
- Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
- Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- Natural History Museum staff
- National Health Service (NHS) employees
- Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
- Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
- Royal Geographical Society staff
- Science Museum staff
- Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
- Students (non-Imperial College)
- Teachers and other staff of UK schools
- Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
- Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
- Victoria and Albert Museum staff
It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.
Applicable terms & conditions
Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.
|Hours||Weeks||Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term||Summer School|
|20||10||n/a||w/c 17 Jan - w/e 26 Mar 2022 (10 weeks)*||n/a||n/a|
|* This is a one-term course|
Web enrolment starts 5 November 2021
Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:
- Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
- First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
- The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
- The following email notifications are sent:
|What is sent||When is it sent||What does it contain|
|1. Payment confirmation||Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application||
|2. Enrolment confirmation||Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received||
|3. Programme information||Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts||
|If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756
- Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Dr Pedro Rubio-Teres at email@example.com
- Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.