Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations (cod. 9084)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to: 1) Appreciate variation in conceptions of international security theories. 2) Understand the origins and evolution of mainstream theories on military strategy. 3) Understand the significance of alternative conceptions of national security for states' policies. 4) Develop an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of modern warfare in strategic international events. 5) Develop analytical skills to be applied to international security issues.

Course contents

International Security (a.k.a Strategic Studies) is an established field within the International Relations discipline, focusing on the role and functions of military forces in international politics.

More specifically, the course covers both theory and practice of war and warfare, with emphasis on the contemporary era. It is subdivided into two sections (of different lengths). The first part ("Strategic Theory", shorter) will examine some of the principal "theories of war" (e.g. Sun Tzu & Clausewitz ). The first part will provide the participants with the relevant analytics tools to attend the second part ("the Tools of Warfare"), which is devoted to the application of those theories to modern warfare as well as an examination of the principal military doctrines, the weapons of mass destructions and irregular warfare (insurgencies, guerrilla and terrorism).

For this class, it is essential to assimilate the English terminology and professional language necessary to work with strategic studies concepts and theories.


General readings, mandatory for all students

  1. Sun Tzu, The Art of War (any edition);
  2. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War (edited by M. Howard and P. Paret) Princeton: Princeton U. Press, Princeton 1976 or later editions;
  3. Your class notes.

Suggested reading: Giampiero Giacomello e Gianmarco Badialetti, Manuale di Studi Strategici, Seconda Edizione, Milano: Vita & Pensiero, 2016,


David Jordan et al. Understanding Modern Warfare, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016 (or later editions).

Specific readings: a few specific readings for some of the topics may be assigned during the Term.



Teaching methods

The course is organised according to the model of the structured seminar, comprising lectures and open discussions. More specifically, as a seminar class, students should start the readings early on in the Term and come to class ready for the in-class discussions.

As part of an active-learning class, the instructor expects all graduate students to regularly come to class and participate in the discussion.

Assessment methods

  • A final paper on a topic previously agreed with the instructor, 25 pg (including references) for attending students and 30pg (including references) for non-attending students.
  • The object of the paper is to analyse a modern conflict (or military campaign) with the tools you have acquired in class and with your readings and you must include Clausewitz in it (the more insights from class and class notes you include, the better).
  • All papers should be structured in the same way (mandatory), which will TBD soon in details, in here.
  • You may use the help of chatbots (ChatGPT, Gemini and the like), but you have to be open and explicit if and where you used them (via footnotes). We will talk more about this part in class.

More detailed information about the paper's structure soon.

Teaching tools

In addition to lectures, (1) documentaries and original video footage to be used in class, (2) the detailed analysis of material on relevant military operations of the past (3) a field trip to the Gothic Line battlefield (1944-45) on the Apennines around Bologna (if possible).

Gothic Line Field Trip 

Hiking Map 

Office hours

See the website of Giampiero Giacomello