Course Descriptions

This page lists all courses offered under the rubric of the Science, Technology, and International Security Program. In addition, courses offered by partner programs can count toward the Certificate in Science, Technology, and National Security, as well. When in doubt, consult with your adviser.

Partner programs include:

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

  • Courses

    406.676 - The Politics of Cybersecurity

    In recent years, the United States has become dependent on cyber virtual networks as the engine for our society. However, this digital infrastructure remains extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks. Protecting the networks we rely on presents unique challenges, as networks are without borders and bear the stress of attack millions of times each day. This course will explore the challenges and political factors impacting the judicial, legislative, executive branch agencies of Department of Defense, Homeland Security, National Security Agency, and private industry as they all work to secure and create a national cyber security apparatus. The intelligence community is facing an enormous challenge in working to prevent the transfer of the United States’ intellectual property and identifying the cyber attackers. We will discuss the political implications of establishing laws addressing how information is to be shared between governments and industry and the authorities needed for the DoD and intelligence community to operate domestically. We will discuss the impact of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and examine the evolving relationship of Congressional oversight and legislative mandates. Issues such as jurisdiction of congressional committees, the budget, and the authorization and appropriations processes will be covered. Major policy and counter-terrorism issues of special concern to Congress will also be addressed in this course. Guest speakers will be invited from DHS, Capitol Hill and the media, allowing us to examine the issues from a variety or perspectives.

    406.677 - Social Science in National Security and Intelligence

    This course examines the role of social science in national security decision making and intelligence. The course lectures, readings and classroom discussion are intended to help students understand the ambivalent relationship between social scientists on the one hand and intelligence personnel and national security policy makers on the other. It also considers the opportunities and limitations in the ways social science could contribute to policy making and how social science has contributed to key national issues. The course will help the student become a savvy consumer of social science. Counts toward Security Studies Concentration.

    406.678 - Science of Biodefense

    This course provides an overview of the science related to biological warfare as well as the most important agents. Students will first be given an overview of the scientific principals relevant to biodefense. Then biological warfare will be introduced including historical context, most important biological threat agents, their medical consequences and treatment, diagnostics and forensics. This course will include a hands-on laboratory session so that students can become familiar with the methods used in biodefense diagnostics and research. Students should gain an understanding of biological warfare and terror agents, the consequences of their potential use, and the available means of protection.

    406.680 - The Impact of Science on National Security

    This survey course will explore the role of science and technology in the national security of our Nation. The focus will be on how science directly impacts nation security. The Federal role in funding science and technology along with a description of the Federal Laboratory system will be discussed. A high level view of the physics and chemistry behind various national security issues will be presented. These issues will include situations involving chemical, biological and explosive compounds and the science behind the tasks of sensing and protection involving these threats. The science and engineering behind the topics such as remote sensing, unmanned vehicles, autonomy, energy, climate change, and genome engineering will also be addressed. The course will be conducted in a part lecture/part discussion format.

    406.681 - Technology of Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Students gain the foundational knowledge behind WMD (both weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass disruption) and about how these weapons threaten U.S. homeland security. Weapons of mass destruction traditionally include nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, while weapons of mass disruption include radiological weapons, such as "dirty bombs." In addition, the course covers the technology behind three WMD delivery vehicles: ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. In assessing each WMD threat, the course first examines the science and technology for each type of weapon and then applies this theory to real world threats emanating from state and non-state actors. Students apply this knowledge by engaging in red team exercises to identify options for preventing and reducing vulnerabilities from WMD. Please note that students do not have to have prior technical knowledge about WMD issues to succeed in this course.

    406.683 - Weapons of War:The Technology and Uses of Weapons

    Modern warfare utilizes advanced weapons systems. This course will examine various weapon systems ranging from artillery, cruise missiles, aircraft, aircraft launched weapons, ships, submarines and unmanned systems. We will also examine strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. In the examination we will look at capabilities, concepts of operation, and issues surrounding their procurement and use. The course will also involve students working through a crisis scenario utilizing various weapon systems. No pre-existing technical knowledge is assumed nor is any required.

  • Elective Courses

    406.661 - Technology and Terrorism

    This course explores the phenomenon of terrorism and its nexus with technology. Beginning with an emphasis on terrorist group factors most likely to influence terrorists’ perceptions and attitudes towards extant and emerging technologies, the course subsequently investigates cases of terrorist use, and noteworthy non-use, of various technologies. Students also receive a broad understanding of the evolution of technology with an emphasis on current and imminent technologies of acute security concern, including weapons of mass destruction, cyber, robotics, and nanotechnologies. The course then addresses counterterrorism technologies and potential terrorist response actions for overcoming such security efforts. Students operationalize all of these elements in the final phases of the course when engaging in Red Team exercises designed to demonstrate which types of terrorists are most likely to pursue certain types of technologies, the role of tacit versus explicit knowledge, likelihood of successful adoption, targeting options, and potential counterterrorism measures. Please note that students do not need to possess a technical background or prior knowledge of terrorism to succeed in this course.

    406.663 - Defense Policy

    This course describes the principal challenges facing the making of American Defense Policy and explains previous and current policies declared and practiced to meet them. The course is designed to inform students on the most pressing defense issues confronting the United States, and to present them a framework for defense policy analysis. It emphasizes understanding those defense policies, analyzing them, and considering and weighing alternative approaches to achieving national objectives of deterrence and defense. The course fosters an understanding of the array of U.S. military capabilities providing plausible responses to the use of military power in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives. It examines those policies in the areas of nuclear, conventional, and irregular forces, and weighs alternatives in shaping the size and structure of those forces to meet national objectives.

    406.682 - Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation

    Since 1945, eight states have tested nuclear weapons, and perhaps two dozen others have started -- and stopped – nuclear weapons programs. This course considers why some countries pursue nuclear weapons and why others forgo them – an issue that bedevils both policymakers, concerned about the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and political scientists, attempting to explain and predict it. The class will delve into past and present examples, discussing and evaluating theories of why states pursue such weapons, the technologies that make it possible, and the policy tools available to prevent it. We will also draw on the parallel efforts to control chemical weapons, biological weapons, and ballistic missiles.