• University of Bath

From State Control to Remote Control: Warfare in the 21st Century

Explore the impact and ethics of using drones, special ops units and private security firms, with this free online course.

10,596 enrolled on this course

Image of military personnel
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

States are increasingly using remote control methods, such as drones, private military companies and special operations units, to engage in activities traditionally performed by conventional armed forces.

This course looks at the reasons behind this trend including security privatisation and risk aversion among politicians and the public. It also studies the opportunities that remote methods provide to circumvent the law.

We’ll ask how our understanding of war and security is changing, and how states in the future will ensure our security through such non-traditional means.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds What do the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the drone strike on Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, and the activities of firms like Blackwater in Iraq have in common? They are all examples of the growing global trend towards the use by states of drones, private military companies and special operations units to conduct tasks traditionally performed by conventional armed forces, a phenomena marking a shift from state control to remote control warfare. I am Dr Wali Aslam. And I’m Dr David Moon.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds On this exciting new MOOC from the University of Bath, we’re going to be investigating how a mixture of technological development and increased privatisation of security and politicians’ increasing sensitivity to risk have all combined to bring about a shift from state control to remote control warfare. Drawing upon examples from around the globe, participants will gain an understanding of the numerous questions that warfare raises or how the State carries out security duties and its capacity for oversight.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds And we ask, does the use of private military companies simply represent good use of state resources, or does it enable states to carry out illegal and sometimes unethical action in which they would otherwise not engage? These are only a few of the big questions that we will be seeking to shed light upon on this course. So join us as we grapple with the new and seek to identify the future on From State Control to Remote

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds Control: Warfare in the 21st Century.

What topics will you cover?

  • Examination of the philosophical, ethical and cultural challenges raised by remote control warfare
  • In-depth case studies focusing on Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq to study the real-life implications of the move towards remote control warfare
  • Study of American, British and European motives for the use of remote means to fight wars

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for the recent trend towards remote control warfare
  • Exhibit an awareness of the receiving-end consequences of remote control warfare
  • Display an understanding of the ethical implications of remote control warfare

Who is the course for?

This course will take an in-depth look at this subject, so you’ll need some pre-existing knowledge of the technical and theoretical issues covered.

Who will you learn with?

I am Associate Professor in International Security at the University of Bath, United Kingdom. I am interested in the fields of international security and International Relations theory.

I am the student mentor for this course, I am here to welcome your comments and to assist you with any questions/queries you may have.

Who developed the course?

University of Bath

The University of Bath is one of the UK’s leading universities both in terms of research and our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects.

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Join a global classroom

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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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