Doctoral studies at SEDU

studenter och bokhyllor

The Swedish Defence University has degree-awarding powers to issue doctoral degrees in the field of defence, crisis management, and security. So far, four doctoral programmes have been established in War Studies, Political Science with a specialisation in crisis management and security studies, Military History and Leadership and Command & Control.

Are you curious and interested in immersing yourself in issues related to defence, crisis management, and security? Then doctoral studies at the Swedish Defence University might be something for you. There is a growing need both in the civilian sector and the military for highly educated individuals who are knowledgeable about societal security.

In the field of defence, crisis management, and security, research is conducted into conditions and factors that affect the possibilities of preventing and managing crises, conflicts and wars as well as establishing security. Furthermore, the area comprises broader societal and ethical aspects on defence, crisis management and security, and cuts across a number of related themes; from military tactic, operations and technological use, to military strategy that, in turn, is closely connected to foreign and security policy. The area includes both the military dimension as well as societal crisis management, international law and civil-military collaboration.

Doctoral programmes

The aim of the Swedish Defence University's doctoral education is, among other things, to drive the development of academic knowledge and strengthen the research basis in the Officers' programme.

The doctoral programmes comprises four years of full-time studies, corresponding to 240 higher education credits. It consists of courses and an independent research project that should result in a doctoral dissertation, or a licentiate thesis if you choose to finish after two years.

The education provides broad knowledge and a systematic understanding of the research area as well as deep specialist knowledge. It also provides knowledge of scientific method and develops the ability for analysis, synthesis and critical review, as well as the ability to conduct research independently and creatively.

Read more about our graduate programmes in war studies, political science and military history below:

War Studies is a social science whose central object of study is war and the use of force. The discipline contains research on how military capability is created, led, organized, maintained over time and comes into effect in operations, in wars, conflicts and crises. War Studies also includes social and ethical aspects as well as critical perspectives in relation to war and warfare. The discipline has both a general theoretical and knowledge-based dimension, as well as a practical and applied dimension linked primarily to the education of officers. The Swedish Defence University is the only university in Sweden where the discipline is taught.

Read more about our research in war studies.

More about the PhD programme in war studies.

Dissertation projects in war studies

Chair professor: Professor Annick Wibben
Director of studies: Associate Professor Kersti Larsdotter

General syllabus for doctoral studies in War Studies (in Swedish) Pdf, 227.4 kB.

Political science with a specialisation in crisis management and security studies is the scientific study of politics with a focus on foreign, defence and security policies as well as crisis management, crisis preparedness, societal security, and international cooperation. The subject is broad and anchored in international relations, administrative policies, comparative politics and political theory, but also draws inspiration from other areas of research research within and outside political science. Some of the things studied includes the policies and practices of how security is created or undermined, as well as how crises are prevented and managed in a Swedish, European and international context. As an example, threats, conflicts, policy-making processes, identities and ethical dilemmas pertaining to state, society and individuals are studied both nationally and internationally.

Read more about our research in political science.

Chair professor: Professor Linus Hagström
Director of studies: Associate Professor Simon Hollis

General syllabus for doctoral studies in Political Science (in Swedish) Pdf, 205.9 kB.

Military history studies war, warfare, military institutions, military culture, and military thinking. The subject analyses the consequences of war on civil society, the interaction between military and civilian, society's resource generation (economic, personal and ideological) and its consequences during different eras. Military history is also concerned with the development of strategy, operations and tactics with a broad focus on technical, social, political and cultural factors.

Read more about our research in military history.

Chair professor: Professor Steve Murdoch
Director of studies: Associate Professor Piotr Wawrzeniuk

General syllabus for doctoral studies in Military History (in Swedish) Pdf, 229.6 kB.

Leadership and command and control is an interdisciplinary subject that draws on and develops knowledge from behavioural science, social science and design science. The research encompasses several academic perspectives such as pedagogy, psychology, sociology, and political science.

Command and Control is the function in a response system that provides direction and coordination in order to achieve the stated objectives, while leadership describes how a leader interacts with a group of people to influence them to achieve the stated objectives. The research spans individuals, groups, organizations, and society, studying the conditions of leadership at different hierarchical levels before, during, and after response efforts, as well as the functions and technical supports available to support leadership and how they interact in various systems. In addition, the research covers leadership development, human resource management, recruitment and selection issues, test and methodology development, stress, risk and crisis management, organization, and the comprehensive Swedish total defence concept.

Leadership and command and control conducts doctoral studies in collaboration with other higher education institutions.

Read more about our research in Leadership and Command & Control.

Chair professor: Professor Erik Berntson
Director of studies: Associate Professor Maria Fors Brandebo

General syllabus for doctoral studies in Leadership and Command & Control (in Swedish) Pdf, 222.5 kB.

The Swedish Defence University's ambition is that, over time, more subjects will be established as third-cycle subjects in the field.

Doctoral studies in collaboration with other universities

In addition to the university's own graduate subjects, there are doctoral students in two additional subjects: Leadership and Command & Control and Systems Science for Defence and Security. The doctoral students are then employed by the Swedish Defence University but through agreements enrolled at other institutions: University of Skövde, Jönköping University and the Finnish National Defence University in Helsinki, Finland.

The subject of Systems Science for Defence and Security can be described as a discipline at the interface between social science and engineering. The main object of study is the interaction between technical and social components which affect or contribute to defence and security. One of the main tenets in systems science for defence and security is that technical and social elements should not be studied in isolation from each other.

Systems Science for Defence and Security conducts doctoral studies in collaboration with other higher education institutions.

Read more about our research in Systems Science for Defence and Security.

Head of Subject: Associate Professor Hans Liwång

Our work includes research and education on the rules of international humanitarian law, including the right to use military force (ius ad bellum), international humanitarian law aspects of international peace operations, the laws of war (ius in bello), human rights in armed conflict, peace operations and other crisis situations, and accountability issues in international military operations at different levels of conflict and in different contexts.

The international humanitarian law research is an integral part of the overall research body at the Swedish Defence University, which is characterised by diversity and a shared focus on the conditions of crisis and armed conflict. The integration of international humanitarian law research is expressed in interdisciplinary projects in collaboration with researchers from other departments at the Swedish Defence University. In addition, we collaborate with other research institutes and initiatives, both in Sweden and abroad.

Read more about our research on Law with a focus on international and operational law.

Head of Department Marika Ericson

Professor Jann Kleffner


Do you have general questions about the doctoral program? Contact the research, education and student office:

More about our doctoral studies

Apply for a doctoral position

The SEDU admits doctoral students once a year after an announcement. The announcements are advertised on our website for about two months before the application deadline, which usually falls...

samtal i mässen

Read more about our doctoral programmes

Enrolment in a doctoral programme entails dedication to a research project that ultimately leads, under supervision, to a doctoral degree. The doctoral education includes courses and the wri...

Doctoral students at the Swedish Defence University

Here you will find more information and contact details to our doctoral students.

Meet some of our doctoral students

Hanna Deiaco, political science

Hanna Deiaco is passionate about the Swedish total defence concept. Both in theory and in practice. In her doctoral thesis, she digs into the question of what the total defence really is - b...

Patrik Hulterström, war studies

Patrik Hulterström has dedicated his life to the military. He is now writing his doctoral dissertation on wargames. “If there’s one thing we don’t want, it’s war. If we don’t want it, we mu...

Emil Petersson, war studies

Although Emil Petersson does not have a military background he chose to conduct his doctoral studies at the Swedish Defence University. Events in South Ossetia thirteen years previously had...

Henrique Garbino, war studies

Henrique Garbino’s research focuses on the use of landmines and other explosive devices by non-state armed groups. With a background in the Brazilian Armed Forces and several international a...