We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Civilian to Officer: Threshold Concepts in Military Officers’ Education

SYED-MOHAMED, AHMAD,THAMRINI,FADZLIN (2016) Civilian to Officer: Threshold Concepts in Military Officers’ Education. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Civilian to Officer: Threshold Concepts in Military Officers’ Education) - Accepted Version


This research discusses the threshold concepts in Military Officers’ Education (MOE) at military institutions that also provide tertiary level education. Unlike other higher education systems, the military education programme is designed to transform civilians into soldiers and train military officers who are able to face the nation’s future security challenges. The rules of technical preparation of military personnel and military leaders have been widely focused on but very little attention has been given to understanding the difficult conceptual and personal shifts entailed in such training. In this study, the threshold concepts theory provides a helpful analytical tool to examine the process deemed necessary for a transformation from civilian status to thinking and practising as a soldier and consequently, a military officer. Combined with phenomenography, as the research methodology, this research involved seven higher ranking officers, twenty-four military trainers, and twenty-nine officer cadets from two reputable military education institutions in Europe. The in-depth interviews explore the learning process in becoming an officer through experiences which involve learning about military practice in university settings. The findings show that there are two ontological shifts that transform a civilian into an officer – Phase I: Civilian to Soldier, and Phase II – Soldier to Officer. During Phase I, the first ontological shift in becoming a soldier involves the acceptance of discipline and obedience, recognition of a framework of related ethics and values, loyalty to the unit (collective above individual needs) and a sense of obligation. Meanwhile, Phase II requires a soldier to understand the concept of personal responsibility for the execution of mission, putting others before self, and the ‘power to command’ to complete the transformation to become a military officer. Apart from the identified ontological shifts and the threshold concepts to become an officer, the study also extended the current understanding of ‘liminality’ by offering new possible responses to the liminal experience. Drawing from the analysis of the empirical data, the study establishes that certain cadets do not essentially have to follow pre-described path to become an officer. Rather, they are capable of conforming to the well-established community of practice whilst feel empowered to intervene actively during the learning process by questioning, and refashioning received ideas.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:threshold concepts, ontological shift, liminality, troublesome knowledge, rites of passage, third space, ambivalence, hybridity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Oct 2016 14:40

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter