Systems Science for Defence and Security

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. The development, acquisition and use of technology and materiel for defence and security is, therefore, in focus. The discipline is a further development of the subject military technology.

Research of benefit to society

The main object of study within the discipline is the interaction between technical and social components which have the ‘capability’ to contribute to defence and security in society. In this context the word capability means; the potential of a community organisation, group, or person to use resources to achieve a specific objective. A typical example of an object of study would be how military units as organisations are equipped and trained for specific missions in crises and war. A common factor in such demanding situations is that they are characterized by uncertainty and entail major risks for both the society and those who are designated to protect it.

Creating capabilities

Processes for creating and utilizing defence and security systems are also studied. Creating a capability can be said to involve all activity in addition to the static maintenance of that capability. Despite limited resources and long development and acquisition times, organisations aim to minimise the scope for ill-conceived and short-term solutions; while at the same time, being able to meet the demands of a dynamically changing world. The use of a developed capability occurs within a broad spectrum of activities in civil and military defence, and encompasses the whole scale of conflict. The aim is to use available resources to achieve the desired effect, at the right time, at a minimal cost given the acceptable risk. The focus of the study is on the development, acquisition and use of technology and materiel.

Research in real contexts

Within the discipline, methods and tools are designed to answer questions and explore problems connected to the object of study’s systems in practice. These can include, for example, modelling an organisations evaluation of specific technologies.

Research areas within Systems Science for Defence and Security

Currently, systems science for defence and security can be described as multi-disciplinary with interdisciplinary elements and an interdisciplinary ambition. The theoretical basis is derived from a number of different disciplines. The primary basis is, however, interdisciplinary systems theory. Systems theory has its roots in general systems theory and cybernetics, but also in an important critique of earlier theories. Thinking from a systems perspective contributes to understanding a wide variety of subjects. The term systems perspective in this context means theories that aim to capture the characteristics of systems. Systems theory is an integral part of social sciences, engineering and technical subjects.

Issues in theory development at an overall level are connected to how the development, design, and use of defence systems affect the outside world, or how changes in the outside world influence their development, design, and use. Here are some examples of issues investigated:

  • How can the interaction and interplay between, on the one hand, security organisations, culture and people, and on the other, technology, be understood?
  • What impact does the development of new technology have on warfare and total defence capabilities?
  • How is the developed capability of a defence system affected by the balance between the quality of materiel and its quantity?
  • How do choices regarding defence and security systems affect society’s overall ability to develop sustainably (not only in relation to social, ecological and economic sustainability, but also from the perspective of all three combined).

At present, research in theory development focuses on strengthening the discipline’s relationship with existing theories.

Faculty active in the area:

Being able to relate systematically to the need for future capabilities and analyse anticipated technological changes is in the interest of government agencies and businesses. Defence and security capabilities are dependent on a number of factors, both technological and social, these developments can be slow-moving. There is, therefore, a great need to be able to assess and analyse potential alternative developments of both civil and military capabilities for defence and security. Research, therefore, aims to act as an engine for the development of methods for the management of technology and capability development. Research and its results should have a robust relationship with government agencies and industry.

The research area includes research into:

  • Methods for assessing the utility of future technical systems for defence and security
  • Methods for managing investments in technology
  • Future research
  • Knowledge of the strategic aspects of materiel procurement and capability development
  • Methods for concept development

Faculty active in the area:

Research in this area investigates how we can understand the cyber domain and how cyber capabilities can be understood, developed and used. Much of the existing knowledge about this field has been developed from large state perspectives and because of this, our research aims to focus on the perspective of smaller states.

This area explores issues such as:

  • How are offensive cyber operations understood by the smart state and its political and military establishments?
  • How can cyber deterrence be implemented in Swedish cyber security policy?
  • How does the digitalization of defence materiel affect the boundary between the cyber domain and electronic warfare (EW) and what vulnerabilities and opportunities does this entail?

Faculty active in the area:

Researchers and Doctoral Students


Senior Lecturers and Associate Senior Lecturers

Doctoral Students

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