Image of a war torn landscape

“War is what happens when language fails.” ― Margaret Atwood

At a Glance

  • Classroom course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Thursday 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)
Booking link

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.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme


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.

Additional Reading

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.


Your Tutor

Your tutor for this course is Pedro Rubio Teres.

Course Delivery Method: Classroom Taught Course

Courses delivered in-person in a classroom*

This course takes place at our South Kensington Campus and will be classroom taught.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.

Covid-19 and Safe Distancing for Classroom-based Courses

Please be aware of covid-19 safe-distancing requirements and adhere to them. We ask if possible that participants on this course take a home swab test (lateral flow test) before joining each session of the class. Swab tests can be ordered free of charge prior to the start of the course from or obtained free of charge from many pharmacists.

* In the event of the government or Public Health England requiring further lockdown measures the class will transfer online and any remaining sessions will be taught entirely online.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate 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

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • 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 before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • 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

Late enrolment

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.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer 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

Enrolment Process

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 sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?