POLS404 Conflict and War in the Contemporary World



The course will explore the changing character and patterns of contemporary conflicts and wars. Globalisation and the knitting together of the global economy have lifted a billion people out of poverty, helped businesses grow, and coincided with a period of peace between the great powers. However, it is faultless recently that the picture has another side: the same mutual interdependence that has brought the world together has also created new vulnerabilities and threats.


The course's primary objective is to familiarise students with various forms and characteristics of contemporary international conflicts, emphasising on the challenges and opportunities arising from global power shifting, connectivity, geopolitics, geo-economics, and asymmetrical and hybrid use of various means.

The course will reflect the current most intensive political and academic discourses:

- The changing patterns of social, economic, international and military conflicts.

- The geopolitical perspective of the current armed conflicts and wars around the world through the examination of territorial, borders, identities, ideological, economic, and cultural dynamics.

- The connectivity between ideological, economic, infrastructure and institutional conflicts.

- The hybrid character of contemporary threats and conflicts.

Seminar readings will present the political, social, economic, historical, international and military factors that influence the dynamics of various types of conflicts and wars. Discussions will involve complex analyses of geopolitical, geo-economical, and geostrategic considerations in multiple cases.


At the end of this course, students should be able to (i) grasp and critically assess the character, ends, means, and complex implications of conflicts and wars in XXI Century; (ii) understand the multi-dimensional nature of the interaction between politics, economy, ideology and geography; (iii) evaluate future conflicts by applying a critical understanding of geopolitics, conflict and war. A permanent learning emphasis will be on the role of democracy in conflict prevention and resolution.

Students will also be able to apply a methodology of critical geopolitical analysis to contemporary international, transnational, and local conflicts; to discuss the new battlegrounds of migration, economy, infrastructure, trade and international organisations; and to debate the hybrid, cyber, drone, and other means of current and future armed conflict.


Students are not expected to know advanced theories of conflict and war before this course. The theoretical methods encountered in this course will always be applied through case discussions.

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Politics and Society (in English)


Valeri Rachev

Course Description:


JOB OPPORTUNITIES: the obtained knowledge and skills could be applied in working as:

- Policy analyst.

- Expert in international organisations as EU, NATO, UN, OSCE, etc.

- Diplomatic servant.

- A civilian servant in defence institutions.

- Expert and consultant to political parties and in specialised NGOs

- Journalists and editors.


- Multimedia.

- Electronic maps.

- Texts in electronic format.

Full-time Programmes

Types of Courses:

Language of teaching:


  1. Conflict and war studies: the classical perspective L1. The science of war: Peace, Conflict, Crisis, and War in the "peace continuum."
  2. L2. Ends and means of war: Why states fight, national power, grand strategy, and war
  3. D1. Each war must end - discussion on bargaining for the termination of wars (Ukraine, Libya, Syria)
  4. Origins of contemporary conflicts L3. Overview of contemporary conflicts
  5. L4. Origins of contemporary conflicts: socio-economic factors
  6. L5. Origins of contemporary conflicts: political factors
  7. L6. Origins of contemporary conflicts: international factors
  8. D2. Globalisation and world order revisited - the impact of globalisation and de-globalisation on conflicts and wars
  9. Wars and conflicts of control L7. Geopolitics of control (war and conflict in geopolitical perspective)
  10. D3. Geopolitics of the great powers (Russian Federation, the USA, and China)
  11. Wars and conflicts of connectivity L8. Geo-economics for influence and control
  12. L9. The weaponisation of migration
  13. L10. Wars in the cyber domain
  14. L11. The COVID 19 pandemic impact on international security
  15. The future wars perspective L12. The fog of future war: global trends and alternative futures



Huntington, S. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (NY: Simon & Shuster, 2003 edition) or Huntington, S. ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’ Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993. Available at http://users.metu.edu.tr/utuba/Huntington.pdf.

Owens, Mackubin Thomas, In Defense of Classical Geopolitics, Naval War College Review; Autumn 1999. Available at www.iwp.edu/docLib/20131016_OwensInDefenseofClassicalGeopolitics.pdf

Newman, Edward and Ge?zim Visoka, ‘The Foreign Policy of State Recognition: Kosovo’s Diplomatic Strategy to Join International Society’ Foreign Policy Analysis, 2016. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301831024_The_Foreign_Policy_of_State_Recognition_Kosovo's_Diplomatic_Strategy_to_Join_International_Society_Table_1

Raik, K. and Sinikukka Saari (eds.) Key Actors in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. Competing perspectives on geostrategic tensions (Helsinki: The Finnish Institute of International Affairs, 2016). Available at www.fiia.fi/assets/.../Report47_Key_Actors_in_the_EUs_Eastern_Neighbourhood.pdf

Kellner, D., Dialectics of Globalization: From Theory to Practice. Available at https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/.../2007_Kellner_DialecticsGlobaltoPrac07.pdf

Poirson, T. and Robert Oprisko, Caliphates and Islamic Global Politics (Bristol: E-International Relations Publishing, 2014). Available at www.e-ir.info/wp-content/uploads/.../Caliphates-and-Islamic-Global-Politics-E-IR.pdf

US National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. Available at https://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/global-trends-2030?highlight=WyJhbHRlcm5hdGl2ZSIsIndvcmxkcyIsImFsdGVybmF0aXZlIHdvcmxkcyJd

UK Ministry of Defence Global strategic Trends out of 2045. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-strategic-trends-out-to-2045