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MRes in Defence Studies


Up to 24 students will have the opportunity to undertake an original, independent research project, with an emphasis on research methodologies, critical engagement with the literature and self-guided research, the culmination of which is a 25,000-word portfolio dissertation.

The portfolio is split into three parts: a 2,000 word recorded Executive summary, 3,000 words in blogposts, and a 20,000 word dissertation.

Students are also allocated a mentor by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to help facilitate research and interviews.

Students on the MRes undertake three core modules, a total of 180 credits:

  • International Security Studies
  • Operational Studies
  • 25,000 word portfolio dissertation.

MRes students do not do an elective module, and additional time is created within the programme for research and interviews. 

Research is undertaken within one of seven identified themes, sponsored by CDS:

  • Levers of power
  • Information and influence
  • People
  • Challenge
  • Future conflict
  • Innovation, adaptation and resilience
  • Organisation

Students will develop an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative & quantitative research, and gain specialised knowledge and understanding of their chosen research subject, drawing on primary research and interviews.

Students also have the opportunity to showcase and share their research through interactive lightening talks and wider dissemination of their research via blogposts or other social media.

Please note, the MRes is open to all students – UK and international – with a 2:1 degree (outstanding applicants who do not possess this qualification may be admitted by exception), but students must be confident of having the requisite English language skills to deliver a 25,000 word research portfolio.

Student Testimonials:




The KCL MRes was undoubtedly a personal highlight of ACSC 22. I was in control from the beginning, through execution and into delivery. It was solely down to my effort, determination, analysis and creativity. It took me to the Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Permanent Joint Headquarters, the Joint Force Headquarters, across academia, as well as commercial and industry elements. 

The MRes programme relied on a strong academic grounding from which to build and develop primary research skills, the analytical capacity to pull it together and make sense of it, as well as the ability to distill simplicity from complexity, develop new ideas and concepts and present them cogently. However, it also developed a strong personal work ethic, independentism, patience and openness to expand one’s cognitive dimension. Moreover, it delivered a like-minded and supportive MRes cohort of peers who worked together, learnt together, struggled together and ultimately delivered together. 

The MRes has stirred a sense of enduring professional military education that will unquestionably lead to further research, education and personal development. I commend it to all who follow in ACSC 23 and beyond.

- MRes Student


A Masters in Research (MRes), like any educational journey, provides an opportunity to develop oneself, however unlike other M level qualifications, the MRes specifically focuses upon research skills. I found the MRes provided a framework to conduct a detailed analysis of Information Advantage, to provide a greater understanding for myself, but hopefully asking and answering some important questions for Defence. 

As part of the MRes, students are required to submit two blog posts/articles to be published.  I submitted one article to the Wavell room on the changing character of conflict and one to Defence in Depth about the importance of balancing technology with process and people.  Although these were only a small part of the programme, I found these the most beneficial as they provided a sounding board to project some thoughts and analysis, which was importantly critiqued by a wide-ranging audience. 

This had the secondary effect of inclusion into communities of interest and also invites to lectures and seminars, which due to the research I was doing, I was well placed to contribute to.  As this developed further I discovered a real passion for professional military education (PME) and Twitter (although other platforms are available).

- Lt Col Chris Fogarty, MRes Student


During the academic year 2018/19, I was one of the first group of students to take part in the new Masters by Research (MRes) programme run by the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London. I was drawn to the course because I wanted to look at a particular area of interest in more detail than is possible through a Master of Arts. Additionally, the allocation of a subject matter expert as the research supervisor was a critical factor in selecting the programme.

King’s excellent faculty, both in Shrivenham and London, and learning support, not least their online resources, were of significant help throughout the year. Outside of set assignments, the MRes helps to develop your wider knowledge through encouraging you to write more broadly, present your latest thoughts through lightning talks and engage in wider workshops and seminars. This approach also ensures that you are developing competencies well beyond the bounds of the MRes.

Not only has the year been hugely enjoyable, it has enabled me to understand which additional skills are required for further learning. This has been a very positive learning experience that has pushed me beyond my previous experiences and will build a foundation for future study.

- Will McKeran MBE, MRes Student