DA4303 The Scientific Study of War

This course is designed to treat the 'scientific study of war' as a debate. Can we study war and warfare using science as a model? If so, why is there such seeming reticence to doing so among policy circles, significant portions of the military community, and general public? What are the strengths and weaknesses of various scientific tools and what do we risk by eschewing science altogether? The course proceeds in two parts. In the first part of the class we examine the history of military thought as it pertains to the question of 'scientism'. In the second part of the course we look at various methodological approaches to understanding organized conflict and assess their strengths and limitations. These will include theory building (both rhetorical and formal), hypothesis testing using quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as various forms of simulation. The substantive issues covered include the outbreak of war, the conduct of war, the termination of war, and the relationships between war, civil society, and economics.


Student completed at least two full quarters

Lecture Hours


Lab Hours


Quarter Offered

  • As Required