STV1266 – Introduction to Game-theoretic Models of War

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Changes spring 2021 due to coronavirus: the lectures on this course will be held digitally.

Game theory may be defined as the use of formal models in the study of strategic interaction. This course offers an introduction to game theory and its potential applications to the study of war. Game theory suggests at least three main sources of war. First, war may result from asymmetric information. Because countries may have incentives to misrepresent their military strength, they may be unable to settle a dispute peacefully. Second, commitment problems might result in war. If two countries want to settle a dispute peacefully but suspects that the other side is unlikely to abide with the terms of that settlement, they may resort to warfare. Finally, war could result when the main source of the dispute involves an indivisible good, so that a compromise is difficult or even impossible.

The course will place particular emphasis on explaining puzzles related to war in general and World War I in particular. Specifically, the course provides a primer in core issues concerning war, including (but not limited to):

  • Information problems
  • Commitment problems
  • Indivisibilities
  • Arms races
  • Coalition building
  • War termination
  • Differences between international and civil wars

Learning outcome

The course teaches students to apply simple game-theoretic models in the study of war.



Having completed the course, you

  • Are familiar with basic game-theoretic terminology
  • Can describe the logics of game-theoretic models 
  • Can apply game-theory logic to analyze questions related to war


Having completed the course, you can:

  • Identify puzzles and use game theory to resolve them
  • Extract the underlying logic of game-theoretic models
  • Read and understand scholarly work that uses game theory


Having completed the course, you have:

  • Increased your general analytical competence
  • Enhanced your ability to use game-theoretic logic in your own work


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

It is a advantage to have taken an introductory course in international politics such as STV1200 - Internasjonal politikk




4 hour home exam

Examination support material

This is an individual exam, but otherwise the students are free to use books and other aids. 

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language