Research areas and subjects

The Swedish Defence University has degree-awarding powers to issue doctoral degrees in the field of defence, crisis management, and security. So far, two graduate programmes have been established in War Studies and Political Science with a specialisation in Crisis Management and Security Studies.

The area

The Swedish Defence University conducts doctoral studies in the area of Defence, crisis management, and security. Within this area, 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, as well as critical perspectives on established knowledge claims and practice.

The area makes up a scientific whole, where the separate parts complement and strengthen each other. It 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.


The central objects of study within War Studies are war, warfare and military use of force. Typical research questions center on the nature of war, the utility of military assets, the methodology or military organisations, and how military capabilities are created, run, organised and work in different kinds of operations (conventional and unconventional). War Studies also study driving forces in military organisations, the conditions of the officer profession, civil-military relations, total defence, how you explain victory and defeat in battles, campaigns and war, as well as issues regarding women, peace and security.

Chair professor: Professor Annick Wibben
Director of studies: Associate Professor Mikael Weissmann

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.

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

It is our ambition that, over time, more research subjects will be established within the existing degree programmes.

Doctoral programmes

The Swedish Defence University's doctoral programmes were established in 2008 to drive the academic knowledge development and strengthen the research basis in the Officers' programme. Since its inception, around thirty doctoral students have participated in the programme. 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 SEDU but through agreements enrolled at other institutions: University of Skövde, Jönköping University and the Finnish National Defence University in Helsinki, Finland.

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.

Chair professor: Professor Erik Berntson
Director of studies: Associate Professor Jenny Madestam

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.

Head of Subject: Associate Professor Hans Liwång

Doctoral students admitted to other institutions

Even outside the doctoral programme, there are doctoral students who have been admitted to other universities, but have had their daily activities placed at the Swedish Defence University. These doctoral students have mainly been affiliated with Political Science. In the future they will be able to be accepted at the Swedish Defence University.