Executive Leadership Course of the Oxford Changing Character of War Programme

A brochure for the leadership course is available here

This intensive one-week executive leadership course will equip participants with a critical understanding of the changing character of armed conflict as well as the conceptual and practical tools necessary to anticipate and tackle future conflict. The course takes an interdisciplinary, participatory approach and combines academic rigour with innovative practical thinking. It is critical for current and future leaders involved in policy-formulation, practice or research related to security, defence and peacebuilding. 

The combination and convergence of new technologies, including cyberware, in the context of the information age, and the corresponding prevalence of low-tech’ challenges by violent non-state actors has created significant challenges to addressing future security threats. The changing geo-strategic balance, or perceptions of change, against a background of fundamental shifts in the global economy, has added to the sense of uncertainty. Nevertheless, there are well-established hot spots of conflict which allow analysts the opportunity to make more concrete assessments, while international institutions continue to provide mechanisms for diplomacy and co-operation.

Structure and Methodology

This course will involve critically reflecting on recent examples, assessing risks, planning and testing policy ideas and forecasting strategic trends. Modelled on successful programmes that we have run in the past, it will be structured into intensive participatory breakout sessions, evaluation of case studies and practical exercises. A number of keynote speakers will complement the interactive course sessions. Course facilitators will include distinguished academics and experienced practitioners.


Global in outlook, the course is principally designed for government officials, staff of international organisations and NGOs, military professionals and the private sector with several years of work experience in issues related to security, defence or peacebuilding. It is also for scholars researching armed conflict.

Sessions include

-       The Changing Character of Conflict: A Historic Overview

-       New Security Threats and Revolutions in Military Affairs

-       Behavioural Patterns among Violent Non-state Groups

-       The Relationship between Policy and Strategy

-       Wars of the Future: New Conflicts, New Policy?

Course Dates and Location

The course will take place over five days in purpose-built conference facilities in St Catherine’s College in the heart of Oxford. Fees include full board accommodation, with delegates housed in en-suite accommodation on the College site. A banquet dinner and drinks reception will take place on the Wednesday evening.

All course participants will receive Bodleian cards, allowing them to access the historic facilities of Oxford’s famous libraries during their stay. 


-       Minimum of 5 years professional experience or postdoctoral level in relevant field

-       Motivation letter and CV to be submitted by 1 May 2016

-       Ability to fulfil visa requirements

-       Proficiency in English language


2800GBP (includes accommodation, all meals, course material, banquet, drinks reception, library access)


To register, please return a completed application form (available here) to ruth.murray@pmb.ox.ac.uk.