Civil-Military Relations

This reading course focuses on the relationship between the political and military elites in different political systems.

What does the course lead to?

This reading course will help you understand and navigate the complex relationship between the political and military elites in different political systems. The course encompasses democratic civil-military relations theory and the central issue of how to strike a balance between the need to maximise the protective value that the armed forces can provide and at the same time minimising the domestic coercive powers that the same forces will inevitably possess.

Put simply; how to achieve both firm civilian control and military effectiveness? This is often a more complex task in authoritarian states, where military coups and other forms of military involvement in politics is common. Different cases are used to illustrate and explain variations both between democracies and non-democracies, as well as between authoritarian states.

Structure of the course

In this readingcourse the literature introduces and problematizes different civil-military theories and their application in real world settings regarding how the civil-military relationship can or should be organized in order to achieve both
civilian control of the armed forces and military effectiveness.

As such, the course encompasses literature that addresses the link between military professionalism and civilian control as well the impact of various control mechanisms on military effectiveness.

The course is mainly conducted through individual study but also includes 1-2 lectures and/or seminars.

Application Code


Study Pace




Starting Term

Spring Term 2024

Study Period

2024 week 13 - 17


Advanced level

Study Mode



Freestanding course


Admission to the Master’s programme in politics and war. As stand-alone course: Officer’s commission/degree or Bachelor’s degree consisting of 180 credits, of which 90 must be in War Studies or an equivalent field.



Language of Instruction

The teaching is conducted in English.


If you have questions about the course, please contact the Study Counsellors.

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Education at the Swedish Defence University

Studies at Swedish Defence University - a both civil and military university - offers a completely different experience compared to most other universities.

Published 2023-09-14 Updated 2023-10-17