91193 - Strategic Studies In The Contemporary Era

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

STRATEGIC STUDIES IN THE CONTEMPORARY ERA 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

Strategic Studies is an established field within the International Relations discipline. 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 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.


Specific readings for each topics will be assigned later on.

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;
  3. David Jordan et al. Understanding Modern Warfare, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016
  4. Alternatively to n. 3, Giampiero Giacomello e Gianmarco Badialetti, Manuale di Studi Strategici, Seconda Edizione, Milano: Vita & Pensiero, 2016
  5. Your class notes.



Teaching methods

The course is organized according to the model of the structured seminar. The course is composed by 10 hours taught online weekly in 2-hour slots that prepare the seminar and by classes organized as seminars that will be held in presence in 10 meetings (3 hours per meeting). Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the class and active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected.Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS. The seminar organization is detailed in the program that follows.

More specifically, as a seminar class, after a few lectures at the beginning of the course, the rest of the classes will be based on presentation and discussion of the assigned readings. Students are required to come to class having read the assigned articles/chapter and be ready for the in-class analysis. 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

The final exam will be a take-home: you will have 24h to provide a written answer (a few pages) to a problem assigned on the day of the exam (the 'appello) by the instructor. Please log in to Microsoft Teams on the day of exam and check the 'assignment' in the course's section. 

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

See the website of