17.584 | Spring 2003 | Graduate

Civil-Military Relations


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Course Overview

The course centers on mechanisms of civilian control of the military. Relying on the influential texts of Lasswell, Huntington, and Finer, the first classes clarify the basic tensions between the military and civilians. A wide-ranging series of case studies follows. These cases are chosen to create a field of variation that includes states with stable civilian rule, states with stable military influence, and states exhibiting fluctuations between military and civilian control. The final three weeks of the course are devoted to the broader relationship between military and society.


  • As the course is a seminar, class attendance and participation are critical.
  • The major requirement is a comparative research paper (20-30 pages long). In this paper, students must systematically compare civilian control mechanisms (or their absence) across at least two countries. Other projects are subject to approval by the instructor.
  • Students will also be required to make oral presentations and to write short position papers.


The research paper will account for half of the grade. Class participation and short assignments will each account for a quarter of the grade.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2003