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Professional Military Education


Our closed Postgraduate programmes are only available to military and civil service students enrolled on the ACSC, ICSC (L), ICSC (M) or RCDS programmes at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC)/Royal College of Defence Studies. Students also have to pass a qualifying exam to be accepted onto the Postgraduate (MA) programme.


Our academic staff are at the forefront of innovative professional military education, combining their world-leading research with pioneering techniques that respond to the ever-evolving needs of military education. The courses in the Defence Studies equip our students with the knowledge, intellectual skills, and creativity needed to succeed in a complex and demanding operating environment.


Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS)

The Royal College of Defence Studies is a world-renowned institution committed to developing strategic thinkers and leaders. In an international environment, which provides perspectives and insights from around the world, we seek to inspire study, stimulate thinking and stir debate on contemporary strategic issues.


Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC)

A post-graduate level non-accredited course featuring a combination of lectures, staff led discussions, exercises and visits to a range of government departments and military headquarters. It culminates with a ‘staff ride’ to Korea, which brings together and evaluates the course themes and learning objectives.


Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC)

The Advanced Command Staff Course (ACSC) represents a unique opportunity for both military and non military students with an interest or connection to the defence, national security or international relations fields, to study alongside military professionals in an open, enquiring and intellectually focused environment. The Defence Studies Department currently offers three Masters pathways, providing a range of different opportunities for students to engage in postgraduate research, depending upon their interests and and skills. Find out more about our programmes below:


Land Command & Staff Course (ICSC)

The Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land) (ICSC(L)) is a 26-week residential, comprehensive and generalist mandatory career course run at the Army Division of the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the Defence Academy. The course provides training and education for all Army and Royal Marine majors, across a broad range of subjects, on promotion (routinely aged ~33 and with 10 years’ professional experience) and where possible for UK civil servants and international partners. The course runs twice per year: the A course from September to March and the B course from January to July.


Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Maritime) (ICSC(M))

The aim of the ICSC(M) is to provide world class intermediate command and staff training and education for naval officers and their civilian counterparts in order to support the operational effectiveness of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. It will prepare students for command and leadership roles and work in the joint service environment. It is the only course of its kind taught in the UK. The ICSC(M) syllabus will develop leadership; analytical and communication skills; understanding of the international environment; knowledge of UK defence management & military capabilities; and appreciation of how maritime power contributes to joint and combined operations.


Intermediate Officers Development (IOD)

The 5-phase Intermediate Officers' Development Programme (IODP) is designed to prepare RAF officers for the current, and next, stage of their career, through the delivery of generic education, rather than role-specific training by allowing them to step outside their professional specialisations. The IODP syllabus concentrates on developing command and staff skills through the study of air power, air warfare, defence studies, command, leadership and management, communication, ethics, personnel management and functional business skills and is designed to enhance officers’ managerial and staff skills to their likely future appointments and their contribution to the operational output of the RAF.

Military aircraft over a desert