Strategic Studies and International Law, MSc

Strategic Studies and International Law, MSc


Our MSc Strategic Studies and International Law provides you with the opportunity to explore the interaction between strategy and international law wherever it occurs.

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

This programme explains how the use of force and power interface with the requirements and expectations of the body of international law, which addresses the conduct of conflict at international and sub-national levels.

An understanding of the theory and practice of the uses of power and force by states to achieve national and international security objectives will be combined with an appreciation of the development and implementation of international law as it attempts to control coercion and to limit violence in the international arena.

This programme, conducted jointly by the School of Law and the School of Social Science, provides you with an advanced understanding of the interaction of Strategic Studies and International Law and how this impacts upon the prevention, control and conduct of the use of state and non-state coercion in conflicts in the modern word. Drawing on the expertise of staff from the two schools, this innovative programme combines Strategic Studies courses in the theory and practice of the use of force by international and transnational actors to achieve political and security objectives. International Law courses allow a focused appreciation of the legal considerations which frame many contemporary conflicts.

Available Programmes of Study

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.

Funding Opportunities

The James Carnegie maintenance scholarship for postgraduate students is available with this degree.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

How You'll Study


  • MSc: 12 months full time- over 3 semesters.
    Courses are taught on a 11 week basis per semester and on a 3 week basis for more intensive courses. Students will typically attend six hours of lectures/seminars per week.
  • Intakes: January and September or 24 months part-time.
  • PgDip: 9 months full-time or 18 months part-time. Full time or part time on campus (120 credits).
  • Prospective students requiring a visa to study in the UK are advised to apply as early as possible to secure a place. Applications received after 30 June (September intake) or 2 November (January intake) from students who need to apply for a visa will not be processed in time for entry, but will be considered for entry into the next intake as appropriate. The semester order below is for September entrants. January entrants will study these semesters in a different order but the same courses will be studied.
  • The programme consists of 180 credit points taken over the duration of one year. A weekly timetable consists of an average of 6 teaching hours per week with some courses running over 3 week periods. Teaching includes a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning in order to enhance students’ critical thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills. Courses are assessed through essays, presentations, examinations, group and project work.
  • The variety of assessment in the programme ensures that students apply theory to practice and become expert communicators and team players.

Learning Methods

  • Group Projects
  • Lectures
  • Seminars

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 result of D3 or above in PI5901, irrespective of their performance in other courses.

Why Study Strategic Studies and International Law?

  • The programme scrutinises salient, real-world strategic and legal issues.
  • It delivers a clear understanding of the contemporary nexus between the various uses of coercion by states and non-state actors and the complex international legal framework which has emerged in modern times.
  • It links to the network of Strategic Studies alumni internationally.
  • The programme provides you with opportunities within the Law School to get involved with extra curricular activities in the community to test your legal ability whilst you study and be guided by professionally qualified legal mentors.
  • You develop extensive capabilities to analyse and research situations before they present with an ability to interpret legal frameworks and diplomatic and strategic frameworks.
  • This programme is a unique combination of specialisms which provide you with specialist expertise in strategies, systems and legal systems.
  • International Law courses on this programme are based on the rigorous and precise analysis of indispensable legal instruments that contribute to the shaping of international politics. Graduate students will attend an appropriate non-credit bearing, postgraduate training course in Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship.
  • The School of Law is ranked top 10 in the UK for Law by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.
  • The University of Aberdeen, composed of a wide community of international staff and students and located in a cosmopolitan and friendly Scottish city, offers a stimulating environment for the study of Strategic Studies and International Law.
  • The School of Law has its own dedicated Law library, Taylor Library, which is located within the Law School building. The main library, Sir Duncan Rice Library, opened in September 2011, and is part of an ambitious investment programme.
  • Students on the programme have the possibility to attend the research seminars of the Law School, the research seminars of the School of Social Science, events organised by the Centre for Sustainable International Development as well as by the Centre for Global Security and Governance. Students can also take part in a language course in the Language Centre.
  • You have the opportunity to develop key skills regarding critical legal and strategic analysis of current security issues.
  • Strategic Studies convenes a Wargaming Club that students can participate in to sharpen their skills in strategic thinking, tactics, diplomacy, communication, & team-work.

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


The degree qualification is attractive to candidates seeking or following a career in government departments, related to foreign and security policies, international organisations, international non-governmental organisations, commercial risk assessment companies and the armed forces. The programme may also serve to engage in an academic career and prepare a PhD.

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
Image for useful fact about this Subject

International Relations is ranked 4th in the UK

International Relations is ranked 4th in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2023.

Top 10 UK Law School

We are ranked Top 10 in the UK for Law by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Useful Fact about this Subject

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

Our Experts

Who teaches on the programme?

  • Strategic Theory: Dr Jim Johnson
  • International Human Rights Law: Prof Matyas Bodig
  • Chinese Security Issues: Dr Jim Johnson
  • Terrorism and Counter - Terrorism: Dr Eva Herschinger
  • Use of Force in International Law: Prof Irene Couzigou
  • International Humanitarian Law: Prof Zeray Yihdego
  • Summer dissertation coordinator: Dr Jim Johnson

Other Experts
Dr Mervyn Bain
Prof Irène Couzigou
Prof Zeray Yihdego
Programme Coordinator
Dr James Johnson

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
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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!

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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.

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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.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

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