MA Strategic Studies


"There are only two places in the world where you can study strategy: [the Naval War College on] Rhode Island, and Reading." (US General (Ret) James Mattis, in 2014).

The MA in Strategic Studies offers a comprehensive education in both the theory and practice of strategy. Moreover, strategy making is increasingly recognised as being also about the creation of coalitions and about co-ordinating the efforts of multiple organizations, sectors, and other groups of players, and about managing large organizations. Strategic Studies can provide insights applying not only to the armed forces but also to other government organs, the NHS, the state educational sector, or large companies (Lawrence Freedman). The compulsory courses revolve first, around the actual development of military strategies and their major problems and recurrent dilemmas, with a particular emphasis on the times of the Anciens RĂ©gimes before the French Revolution to the Counterinsurgency campaigns of the early 21st century. Secondly, they address the strategic thinking underlying them, with a focus on the works of Clausewitz, Jomini, Mahan, Corbett, their forebears, and the many thinkers of the 20th and early 21st century from Raymond Aron to Count Zeppelin.

The programme provides a thorough analysis of contemporary strategic issues and the challenges of defence planning in the modern world. This analysis is aided by an exploration of the great works of strategic theory, and an examination of some of the most significant historical case studies in Modern History. This MA benefits from a thriving programme of research and teaching connected with the interdisciplinary Ways of War Centre.

The programme provides an invaluable education for those who are currently engaged, or seek a career, in the defence profession, but also anybody with an interest in journalism, the work of think tanks in this domain, or indeed strategy as applied to other areas of life. Students choosing this module range from active military officers to graduates from history, politics, geography, and business people.

Core modules 

  • Strategic Theorists
  • Strategic Practice
  • Dissertation
  • Advanced Research Methods in Politics and International Relations

Optional modules

  • The Political Economy of Civil War
  • International Relations Theory
  • International Security Studies
  • Contemporary Diplomacy
  • Key Concepts of Strategy
  • The Origins and Causes of War
  • Conflict in the Middle East
  • Terrorism in a Globalising World
  • The Politics and Economics of Immigration
  • Governance, Security, Diplomacy
  • Building Peace after Civil War
  • Themes and Issues in Contemporary International Relations
  • Seminar Series on Case Studies in Politics and International Relations
  • Work Placement and Project
  • Philosophical Issues in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
  • International Institutional Law and Dispute Settlement
  • International Criminal Law
  • Israel/Palestine: International Law and Human Rights Questions
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • The Use of Military Force
  • Public International Law

For details of each modul

For a selection of module descriptions, see here.

For more information please download the programme specification for MA Strategic Studies (PDF)


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