Educational content

During the last decades a new approach to contemporary wars and armed conflicts – the socalled New Wars theory have emerged. This course aims at presenting the theory, analyzing its theoretical content and its empirical foundations. By mixing theoretical inputs on the nature of war, contemporary war, mass violence and conflict with cases drawn from a number of resent conflicts the course aims at scrutinizing the often simplified analytical notion that can be found in the description of asymmetric wars and in the new wars concept.


During the course students will be asked to deconstruct a selected number of empirical conflict cases, different both in na-ture, time and space, to challenge the theoretical claims and to create a better understanding of the nature of contemporary armed conflicts. The resulting increased knowledge of the na-ture of modern armed conflicts, may assist the students, as future military planners and staffofficers, when formulating strategies and planning military operations. The selected cases will primarily originate from Africa but also non-African conflicts will be addressed, thus providing a comparative approach, while maintaining a focus on contemporary conflicts in Africa. One of the objectives for the course is to challenge the claim of African uniqueness.  Another objective is to provide analytical tools when addressing contemporary conflicts of the “new wars type” in terms of planning and executing military strategy and mili-tary operations.



Students already admitted to the MMS-program will have priority, but qualified single module students can participate. Single module students have to apply by sending a motivated application – including first line head’s approval to 


Learning objectives

When having passed the course, the student will possess knowledge, skills and competences as listed below:



An understanding of the concept of new wars; its basic assumptions; its proponents and opponents and their arguments; and its historical and theoretical background. Based on new and high international research.

An understanding of other relevant theories and their applicability on the cases studied during the course.

Factual knowledge of the cases of war and conflicts analyzed during the course and an understanding of the dynamics behind each of them (their causes; main factors/structures/actors involved in them, etc.).

An understanding of different tools and processes of relevance for addressing and resolving wars and armed conflicts of the new wars type, including the perspectives and limitations of external military intervention.



The student should be able to analyze and discuss the implications of new wars theory on more general theories of military strategy and operations.

The student should be able to assess the applicability and limitations of new wars theory on contemporary and future wars and armed conflicts.

The students should be able to analyze and discuss the potential and limitations of different tools of conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict stabilization.



The student should be able to apply the terminology and perspectives on war and armed conflicts offered by the course on the planning and execution of Danish (and other states) military strategy and military operations

The student should be able to analyze and offer advice on the dynamics of wars and armed conflicts of the new wars type; and analyze and offer advice on the implications of using different tools of conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict stabilization, including military intervention.



The course is divided in to three phases.


During the first phase new wars theories will be placed in the overall framework of war studies and conflicts theory. What is the genealogy of the concept of new wars and how does it re-late to classical theories of war such as Clausewitz? Furthermore, the basic building blocks of the new wars theory and the challenges to it will be presented: State-formation/destatification, globalization, war and different forms of rationality, identity and analyzing “the other”.


The second phase is devoted to a number of in-depth case studies of conflicts. Four conflicts will be studied in depth: the conflict in Sudan (Darfur and South Sudan); the civil war in Sierra Leone 1991-2001; the conflicts in the region of the Great Lakes and the civil war in Yugoslavia 1991-1995.


Eventually the course, during its third phase, will turn towards the realms of military strategy and operations. What are the overall implications for military strategy and operations of the new war thesis and how does this relate to the cases studied in depth? Are armed conflicts in development countries best addressed by “the west” by a hands-off approach; by supporting regional structures of conflict prevention, resolution and intervention; or by combining the use of own political, economic and military assets with local in the framework of broad coalitions?


Teaching approach

The course is based on blended learning. Four two-day seminars (at the Royal Defense College, Copenhagen) will be combined with webbased asynchronic learning. Here web-presentations, individual study, written assignments and discussion treads will be mixed.  All literature and all communication related to the course will be in English.



Type: Essay exam.

Duration: 48 hours

Graduation: The Danish seven-step scale (based on and equivalent to the ECTS-graduation system).

Censorship: Eksternal.


Students at MMS and qulified students for this level of education


Course directors
Associate Professor Thomas Mandrup,
Institute for Strategy

+45 2274 8390Associate Professor Niels Bo Poulsen
+45 4132 9870

Kenneth Pors Straarup 
Telefon: +45 72 81 70 61 

Sidst opdateret 10. marts, 2021 - Kl. 09.48