Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitHistory
OfferedNot offered in 2014
Coordinator(s)Dr Reto Hofmann


Previously coded HSY2075


Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the business of war has been monopolized by nation states. Over the past decade, mercenaries and private military companies have re-emerged as an important force in world politics. The new trend to contract the task of war has changed warfare and the nature of state control over violence. This unit examines the historical development of the mercenary from the medieval period to the present day in Asia and Europe. The focus is on the shifting relationship between the state and private violence.


Students successfully completing this unit will be able to demonstrate;

  1. A thorough understanding of the different forms of the mercenary and mercenary organizations across periods and societies;
  2. A critical understanding of the development of the state and the ways in which notions of state sovereignty and authority have changed;
  3. A critical understanding of the role that war and violence has played in state formation;
  4. A thorough understanding of the ways in which modern mercenary companies represent a return to an older form of authorized, private violence and also a sharp departure from past practices;
  5. An enhanced ability to work with and analyse a wide variety of primary and secondary sources; and improved skills in using sources to construct a logical and forceful historical argument;
  6. The capacity to prepare web presentations and contribute to a database;
  7. The capacity to work with others to produce a collaborative research project and presentation.


Written work: 45%
Web-based and oral presentation: 20%
In-class test: 20%
Tutorial participation: 15%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

One 1.5-hour lecture per week
One 1-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Two gateway units in History or by permission