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PLT2280 - Order and Violence in International Society

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: TBA


Not offered in 2007


This unit enquires into the theoretical, historical and contemporary manifestations of order and violence in world politics. Rules restraining violence have long been central to the maintenance of order in international society. This unit traces the emergence of modern thought about violence, and attempts to place restraints on it, from Machiavelli through Grotius and Kant to Clausewitz and Weber. It will focus on the evolving laws of war, and assess the extent to which notions of self-defence, aggression, and intervention are being re-interpreted in contemporary world politics. A guiding question will be whether political orders require violence for their establishment and maintenance.


  1. To encourage students to read and understand texts in their appropriate historical and political contexts.
  2. To introduce students to the laws of war from their modern origins to their contemporary manifestations.
  3. To heighten student understandings of the relationship between order and violence in political life by introducing them to relevant conceptual and theoretical issues.
  4. To encourage students to critically evaluate conceptions of order and violence in contemporary political discourse.

Learning Outcomes:
  1. Students will develop an understanding of the need to place ideas in context.
  2. Students will develop knowledge of international political thought and history, and the debates that shape that knowledge.
  3. Students will develop an understanding of the way concepts inform political practice by studying the particular issues of war and the laws of war.
  4. Students will develop an ability to think critically about central political concepts and to analyse their moral implications for world politics today.


Essay (3000 words): 50%
Exam (90 mins): 40% +
Tutorial participation: 10%

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 1 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial) per week