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Module Code: POU44132

Module Name: Topics: The Military and Politics 2021-22

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 2
  • Contact Hours: One 90 minute seminar per week. The module is taught primarily through class discussions, not through lectures
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr Jesse Dillon Savage.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • critically evaluate the different theoretical approaches to understanding the role of the military in politics;
  • discuss the role of the military in state formation;
  • understand how the military influences domestic political developments such as regime change;
  • explain the role the military plays in both democracies and authoritarian regimes.

Module learning aims

To build students’ understanding of the relationship between the military and politics. The module will provide students with a detailed understanding of how the military influences politics in a variety of spheres both domestic and international. It will explain the challenge of civil-military relations and the effects that civil-military relations can have on political development.


Module content

The module studies the role of militaries in politics. One of the key strategic dilemmas raised by the military is that an organization that has the power to protect a polity from external threats has the potential to threaten the polity itself. The goal of this module is to help understand how this dilemma has been resolved in a variety of contexts. It explores the role that the military played in state formation, how civilian control over the military is institutionalised or breaks down, how the military affects domestic competition and conflict, and how the military can affect foreign policy. These issues are examined cross-nationally, including developing and developed countries, democracies and non-democracies.

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Recommended reading list

Detailed readings will be given in the module handout. Key readings:

  • Huntington, Samuel P. The Soldier and the State; the Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1957
  • Singh, Naunihal. Seizing power: the strategic logic of military coups. JHU Press, 2014
  • Talmadge, Caitlin. The Dictator's Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes. Cornell University Press, 2015

Assessment details

100% coursework.

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