Strategic Studies, MSc

Strategic Studies, MSc


MSc Strategic Studies provides you with advanced understanding of the use of force in conflict.

This course has January and September start dates. Apply Now.

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more.

Study Information

Study Options

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January
Location of Study

The MSc Strategic Studies programme provides you with the ability to scrutinise real-world security issues which challenge governments, conflict, armed services, peace, international organizations, and business globally. The programme intends to equip you with a range of advanced theoretical and operational understanding of the characteristics, practice, and profound effects of the use of force by states and non-state actors at a regional (especially Asian) and global level. The programme is multidisciplinary, attracting a diverse international cohort.

Strategy is notoriously tricky. Most strategies fail, most of the time. However logical the connection of means, ways, and ends may be on paper, it is notoriously hard to achieve. Why is this so? This programme will address these questions and more. You will learn about the contribution of strategy as a mechanism for the application of power and coercion, addressing the nature of strategy, causes of war, deterrence, arms control, terrorism-counterterrorism, Chinese security issues, religion and conflict, and the impact of emerging technology (AI, cyber, drones, hypersonics, etc.) on strategic affairs, and much more.

The course considers the historical background and context that has shaped key developments in strategic affairs from domestic, international, political-psychological, and strategic-cultural standpoints. Students will learn about these issues from Western and non-Western (especially China) perspectives.

Available Programmes of Study


Strategic Studies

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January Aberdeen More
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September Aberdeen More

Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programme(s) above.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3000 to £8,500, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarship opportunity here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

You will enjoy a diverse and friendly style of teaching throughout our programme. These unique ways of learning will develop skills valued by employers, including independent learning and research, group work, presentation skills and project work.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

By written examination, essay work and class presentation as prescribed for each course and by submission of a dissertation. The degree of MSc shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CGS grade of D3 or above in PI5901, irrespective of their performance in other courses.

Why Study Strategic Studies?

  • The programme scrutinises salient, real-world security issues which challenge governments, armed services, international organisations and business around the world.
  • MSc Strategic Studies has produced graduates of high repute with excellent career prospects for over thirty years, with a network of alumni internationally.
  • There are plenty of Strategic Studies Alumni from Aberdeen around the world and the student body is international with many countries represented.
  • An MSc in Strategic Studies provides you with a strong methodology and knowledge to interpret situations that present in a wide range of areas of work globally.
  • This programme will arm you with many transferable skills; critical for the competitive working environment including oral communications skills, written communications skills, critical analysis, problem-solving, teamwork skills (e.g., negotiation, persuasion, decision-making, leadership), IT skills, and working independently (e.g., establishing and prioritising objectives, working to deadlines).
  • This programme encourages collaboration with course experts who have experience of public policy, government departments, and international organisations (e.g., NATO, EU, UN, and think-tanks), or working as advisers to government (including in the UK, the US, EU, and East Asia).
  • PIR hosts an exciting range of events, including research seminars with world-renowned guest speakers, international policy, academic conferences, and other global policy-focussed forums.
  • The programme will allow you to gain exciting opportunities in a range of internships, fellowship, and other kinds of work experience.
  • MSc Strategic Studies conducts a range of cutting-edge specialist research in collaboration Centre of Conflict and Security Studies.
  • The interdisciplinary nature of the programme creates exiting collaboration opportunities with other departments across the university including Business, Geography, Law, and Computer Science.
  • Strategic Studies convenes a Wargaming Club that students can participate in to sharpen their skills in strategic thinking, tactics, diplomacy, communication, and team-work.

What Our Students Say

Gideon Adu-Gyamfi

Gideon Adu-Gyamfi

Gideon Adu-Gyamfi

Almost all courses and lecturers I have engaged with throughout my course has had an impact on my academic career and life. In all, the course offers lots of flexibility in your choice of specialty, which bring inner strength and satisfaction.

Carmona Pola

Carmona Pola

Carmona Pola

I highly recommend this programme to whoever is keen to comprehend the complex world of international security and the use of force. A well-designed curriculum that fits anyone's academic needs is so intellectually stimulating.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results, an applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


Possible career opportunities include:

  • Military Officers
  • Intelligence Analysts
  • Political Analysts
  • University Lecturers
  • Journalists
  • Law enforcement Officers
  • Senior Associates
  • Senior Research Officers
  • Freedom of Information Officers

Chinese Security Issues

In this short video, Dr James Johnson tells us more about the course "Chinese Security Issues".

7th and 9th in the UK

We are ranked 7th in the UK for International Relations and 9th in the UK for Politics by the Guardian University Guide 2024.

Useful Fact about this Subject

In this lecture, Dr Jim Johnson introduces one of MSc Strategic Studies courses, ‘Strategic Theory’.

Useful Fact about this Subject

In this short video, Dr Dimitrios Anagnostakis tells us more about the course "Terrorism and Counter-terrorism'.

What our Alumni Say

Viktoria Gugg

Viktoria Gugg

Viktoria Gugg

Graduated 2019

With the conception to base the curriculum on the theoretical understanding of strategic theory and the contribution of power and force as mechanisms in international security, the program provides a toolkit to apply to a variety of issues. Furthermore, it prepares its graduates to scrutinize contemporary challenges, with the option to select courses that focus on the bigger picture of global security and the legal framework to act within.

Tom Ordeman

Tom Ordeman

Tom Ordeman

Job Details
Governance, Risk, and Compliance Manager
Graduated 2016

I would sincerely recommend the Strategic Studies program for most candidates who harbour an interest in global security issues. In addition to the professional benefits afforded by the completion of an advanced degree, the understanding I gained from my studies in Aberdeen has helped me to understand controversial issues in the United States and the world at large.

Cassandra Humble

Cassandra Humble

Cassandra Humble

Job Details
Policy Advisor
Graduated 2018

This program is designed to develop your critical thinking skills and broaden your understanding of the world around you. If you are interested in why states do the things they do and how the world reacts to strategic threats, this course will provide you with the grounding to judge these actions and assess future threats. These skills will form the backbone of any role you go on to fulfil and will give you the tool kit to continue exploring the world around you.

Julie Claustre

Julie Claustre

Julie Claustre

Job Details
Graduated 2018

The MSc in Strategic Studies at the University of Aberdeen offers a wide range of topics to dig into thanks to the course's flexibility, as well as the opportunity for students to research their own particular interests. The course also pushed us to constantly question our own viewpoints and beliefs so as to better articulate our thoughts and strengthen our arguments. It was eye-opening and intellectually stimulating as it allowed us to grow into better researchers and analysts of geopolitics.

Angus Caddick

Angus Caddick

Angus Caddick

Job Details
Army Officer
Graduated 2018

I was surrounded by down to earth lecturers that really cared about the topic, and about how well I did on the course. They were interested in me and my future career, and invested in me.

Fabio Saelzler

Fabio Saelzler

Fabio Saelzler

Graduated 2019

'Strategic Theory' and 'Religion, security and conflict' were great courses. Dr. Samantha May an outstanding lecturer. Really challenged me to reflect on my view on international relations theory.

Nicky Fahrizal

Nicky Fahrizal

Nicky Fahrizal

Job Details
researcher in Politics and Social Change Department
Graduated 2017

anyone interested in strategic issues, addressing nature of strategy, and increasing of work ethic, please join Strategic Studies at School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen.

Our Experts

A small and cohesive group of highly skilled academic staff with many years of graduate teaching experience, who are part of a network of high quality academics in strategic studies and international security.

Other Experts
Dr Samantha May
Prof Mervyn Bain
Programme Coordinators
Dr James Johnson
Dr Dimitrios Anagnostakis

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


We provide a wide range of related research centres, which include:

  • Centre for European Survey Research
  • New Europe Centre - housing a variety of projects looking at values and behaviour
  • Centre for Global Security and Governance
Image for Politics & International Relations Society
Politics & International Relations Society

Politics & International Relations Society

The student-led Politics and International Relations Society is one of the largest societies on campus. It's a place for students to come together and explore their curiosities with like-minded people, whilst having lots of fun!

Find out more
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Cutting Edge Research-led Teaching

Cutting Edge Research-led Teaching

PIR focuses on topics such as energy policy, environmental policy, health policy, and identity politics (gender and ethnicity), all of which span the traditional division between domestic/comparative and international politics.

Find out more
Image for Regular Seminar Series and Guest Speakers
Regular Seminar Series and Guest Speakers

Regular Seminar Series and Guest Speakers

We have regular seminar series hosted by the department of Politics and International Relations along with guest speakers throughout the year.

Find out more

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX