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Professional Military Education

Military courses supported by the Defence Studies Department

Royal College of Defence Studies Programme (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. Our aim is to prepare graduates who understand the strategic context, are skilled in analysis and able to work intuitively across national, cultural and ideological boundaries to lead on or contribute to developing strategy at the highest level. 

  • MA in International Security & Strategy (RCDS): The programme supplements the RCDS course and is designed to enhance and deepen knowledge of a broad range of subjects relevant to international security and strategy, whilst also fostering awareness of a comprehensive range of approaches relevant to the multidisciplinary study of such issues

Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC)

A post-graduate level 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’ which uses the setting of the battlefields of northern France and Belgium to bring together and evaluate the course themes and learning objectives - This course is open to nominated personnel only.

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.

  • MA in Defence Studies: The MA in Defence Studies is available to students on the ACSC course and is designed to offer a path through the study of all aspects relating to defence by active learning and building knowledge through participation, both individually and in collaboration between students
  • MRes in Defence Studies: The MRes in Defence Studies builds upon the Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC) to provide students the opportunity to engage in advanced research at M-Level, as well as appropriate research training tailored to students' particular research interests.

Intermediate Command and Staff Course, Land (ICSC(L))

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.

  • MA in Military & Security Studies: The MA in Military and Security Studies builds upon the Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land) (ICSC(L)) to allow students to enhance their knowledge of military and security through active learning, individual participation and collaboration with fellow students.

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 Programme (IODP)

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 Application Process

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.

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