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Applied Issues in War Studies


Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘War and Peace Studies’, can take this course.


Applied issues in War Studies will focus on the societal aspects of contemporary armed conflict. The course will teach students different ways of analysing and understanding a very complex human phenomenon: War. Students will study how various modern societies think about war and security policies, they will study security cooperation and the (international) legal implications of war and contemporary means of warfare.

In this course students will explore aspects of preparing societies for armed conflict, including decision-making processes, preparations for war, and the various uses of the military instrument; students will learn about how and why armed forces can be deployed. In this course, theories, methodologies and concepts of War Studies will be applied to practical examples and the perspectives of practitioners will be sought throughout the course. Students will be asked consider methodologies on how to think about, and prepare for, future wars and types of warfare.

Central to Applied Issues in War Studies is the research skill of analysing complex phenomena. Students will learn how to use literature, various theories, or analytical frameworks to assess systematically, understand, and explain contemporary conflict, strategic questions, and other issues practitioners in the field are faced with. They will study the impact of academic research and analysis on policymakers and will learn how to make a research plan that enables them to analyse complex phenomena and challenges surrounding war and warfare.

Course objectives

After finalising this course, students will have acquired/After finalising this course, students are able to

  • Analyse complex conflict situations, and identify various strategies and policies in the field of war and warfare

  • Present—together with fellow students—arguments and analyses regarding applied issues in War Studies in a format appropriate for a broader professional audience and as input to expert groups;

  • Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work, simulations and individual assignments.

  • Discuss the main challenges and opportunities that relevant stakeholders in the field war and international security, including local (non) governmental actors and the public, private actors, as well as (inter) national governmental actors are confronted with in a multi-actor and multi-level context.

  • Draw conclusions, make judgments and/or provide solutions to real-life problems or societal issues based on empirical data and on sound and balanced argumentation.

  • To seek evidence and draw from empirical or theoretical materials for an informed (and, when applicable, critical) judgement.

  • Build, present and defend well-grounded arguments in oral communication on site and engage in public debates about the issues related to (the study of) contemporary armed conflict.

  • Understand, based on advanced knowledge, the role of leaders dealing with issues of international security and armed conflict, and identify and apply theoretical and analytical frameworks, in a conceptually and methodologically rigorous manner, to analyse real-world cases in terms of challenges, strategies, leadership styles, and their outcomes.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of a combination of (guest) lectures and workgroups (two sessions per week).

In the lectures, students will learn how to apply theory to real life issues surrounding war and warfare. Studenst will get into contact with practitioners in (planning for) warfare. In the workgroup sessions, students will discuss contemporary issues in war studies in groups and work on individual and small-group basis make research plans. The workgroups will consist of in-class research activities, team performances, peer review and exercises that will help students prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss more than one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Total study load: 280h
Contact hours: 42h (sessions)

self-study (reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.): 238h

Assessment method

Formative Assignment
Mandatory but not counting towards the final grade.

Group assignment
20% of final grade
Re-sit not possible
Grade can be compensated

Mid-term assignment
30% of final grade
Re-sit not possible
Grade can be compensated

Final paper
50% of final grade
Grade must be 5.5 or higher to pass the course
Re-sit possible
Re-sit will take the same form but may be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

Students who obtained a 5.5 or higher for the Final Paper will also be permitted to re-sit the 50% final paper if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The group assignment and the mid-term paper must be compensated.

Additionally, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace. The corresponding Brightspace course will become available in the week prior to the first seminar.


Register for every course and workgroup via MyStudymap or uSis. Registration for courses is possible from 12 July, 13.00h. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

Contact Ernst Dijxhoorn

Dr. Frans Osinga