University of Surrey - Guildford

Registry > Module Catalogue
View Module List by A.O.U. and Level  Alphabetical Module Code List  Alphabetical Module Title List  Alphabetical Old Short Name List  View Menu 
2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Politics Short Name: POL521
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: DAVID M Dr (Politics)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Autumn Semester (Semester 1)
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark
( %)
Essay (2000 words)
Case Study (3000 words)
Qualifying Condition(s) 
A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Module Overview
The module will examine, from both a theoretical and a practical perspective, the different kinds of international intervention in response to poverty, humanitarian crisis, abuses of human rights, state failure, and armed conflict. Following a general introduction to the topic students will research and present a number of case studies from the post-colonial and post-Cold War periods and the group will examine strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. The different forms of intervention studied will include development and humanitarian assistance; peace-making, peace-keeping, and peace-building; use of international legal institutions and processes; and coercive military intervention to secure regime change
Module Aims
·         To introduce students to the underpinning concepts and competing understandings of intervention
·         To identify those factors that lead to interventionist action
·         Develop students’ ability to deliver a critical analysis of those factors that shape international intervention in situations of conflict, state collapse, humanitarian and human rights emergencies.
·         To apply students’ theoretical knowledge to case studies and to examine the fit between the two.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the module, students should have developed the skills to demonstrate the following:
Knowledge and understanding
  • Excellent knowledge of key cases, including wider contextual issues
  • Focused and meaningful narrative and analysis of relevant case studies
  • Knowledge of key concepts and theoretical understandings of intervention
  • Ability to reflect critically upon the evolution of policy and analysis of international intervention
  • Capacity to formulate a case study through independent research, applying theoretical frameworks to empirical evidence.
Transferable and Practical Skills
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • The ability to research independently and effectively
  • Good time-management and other organisational skills
  • Excellent communication skills – both oral and written
  • Reflective thinking – understanding of learning processes
Module Content
We begin by introducing students to the concept and practice of international intervention, mapping the relevant ground in the period from 1945-2005. Early discussion focuses on the need to incorporate a range of variables into our analysis, including events, institutions, actors and norms. Students are then introduced to the case study approach to be applied in later classes and assessment. Case studies are selected to form a representative sample of interventions in both the Cold War and post-Cold War period. They include Biafra 1967-70, India-East Pakistan 1971, Northern Iraq 1991-2002, Afghanistan 2001-9. Emphasis is placed, however, on the application of theoretical material in order to understand what has been learned about intervention in the period under study.
At key intervals lectures explore theoretical arguments surrounding intervention and include a focus on the moral and legal aspects of intervention and how it is interpreted in the international arena. Early seminars therefore require students to engage in critical analysis of the literature and to consider aspects of international law.
Methods of Teaching/Learning
·         Lectures
·         Seminars
·         Enquiry based learning
·         Presentations
·         Group exercises
Selected Texts/Journals
Breau, Susan (2005) Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations and Collective Responsibility, London, Cameron May
Haines, Steven (2007), ‘International Law and the Use of Force’ in Salmon, Trevor C, and Imber, Mark F (eds) Issues in International Relations (2nd ed), Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.
MacQueen, Norrie (2007) ‘Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding’ in Salmon, Trevor C, and Imber, Mark F (eds) Issues in International Relations (2nd ed), Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.
Paris, Roland and Sisk, Timothy D. eds. (2009) The Dilemmas of State building: Confronting the contradictions of postwar peace operations Abingdon: Routledge.
Weiss, Thomas G (2007) Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action, Cambridge: Polity.
Welsh, Jennifer M (ed.) (2006) Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wheeler, N. (2002) Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Last Updated
1 July 2010