Strategic Studies and Energy Security, MSc

Strategic Studies and Energy Security, MSc


This programme draws in the University of Aberdeen’s expertise in international security and the energy sector to deliver detailed understanding of global energy security, in the context of how different countries and regions operate today.

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 and Energy Security combines the study of national and internal security with courses in energy politics, energy economics and energy law to equip students with the practical skills needed to understand the character of international security as it relates to energy security.

The aim of this programme is to understand the costs and benefits of the strategies deployed, often of a military nature, to address energy security issues and to enhance our understanding of the difficulties encountered when attempting to assess the prospects for stability and security in key, pivotal 'energy-rich' and 'energy-poor' regions of the international system. In addition, you will study the enduring influence of certain core strategic issues, inherent in the management of power and coercion, on the international system regardless of levels of economic and social development.

The University of Aberdeen plays a central role in developing new technology across the energy sector while also works closely with industry, government and regulatory bodies in developing energy policy and frameworks. Our location at the heart of the Energy Capital of Europe means that our students benefit from direct industry involvement with our programmes.

Available Programmes of Study


Strategic Studies and Energy Security

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 More

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £11,100
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Stage 1


  • This route will run over two years. Students can take up to 120 credit points in a single year. PD5006 must be taken in Year 1 and PI5901 must be taken in Year 2.
  • The "Stage 1" and "Stage 2" courses are compulsory and can be taken in either Year 1 or Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Strategic Theory (PI5001)

30 Credit Points

This core module considers the contribution of strategy, as the mechanism for the application of power and force, to national, regional, and international security. It explores what strategy is (the pursuit of continuing advantage) and how to think clearly about it. Topics addressed include the nature of strategy, deterrence, arms control, strategic stability, nuclear policy, and emerging technology and future warfare.

Energy Politics (PI5025)

15 Credit Points

History and politics of energy since WW2. Nuclear Power politics – rise, fall and non-rise?. Renewable energy politics, rise and stagnation or triumph? EU politics of liberalisation and interventions such as the EU ETS. Environmental politics and oil; conserving nature and extracting oil Arguments about regulations on oil and gas, planning arguments, arguments about oil spills, protests (eg Brent Spar). The politics of natural gas. The case of ‘fracking’. The course will discuss how economics and politics interact. No prior technical or econometric knowledge is required for this course.

Introduction to Energy Economics (BU5053)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces key techniques from economics and finance to allowing understanding of the basics of business decision making within the energy industries and the economic implications of key energy policies. We consider basic financial concepts such as: present value, the opportunity cost of capital and their role in business decision making in energy industries. We also consider key economic elements of markets and how the economic environment structures the way in which businesses make decisions and energy market outcomes.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Chinese Security Issues (PI5521)

30 Credit Points

The focus of this module is the key approaches, institutions, and contemporary issues in global security relating to the rise of China. Set in the context of broader global security issues, this module offers students an introduction to Chinese security policy and approaches to international relations. It lifts the vale on a very misunderstood, controversial, and increasingly critical feature of global security and world affairs. It will explore debates on China's rise, China's growing involvement in international politics, and global security.

International Energy Security (PI5518)

30 Credit Points


Oil and Security – how oil crises have occurred since 1973, with a focus on the energy demand and supply pressures and the political factors triggering the 1973 and 1979 oil crises. OPEC and IEA. The factors underpinning the oil crisis of 2008 and its relationships to world economic crisis. The role of China in oil politics.

Natural Gas, the EU and Russia. How conceptions of (natural gas) energy security are constructed and implemented in the EU and Russia –Nuclear Power and energy security;– eg Iran .

Climate Security

Stage 3

Compulsory Courses

Dissertation in Strategic Studies (PI5901)

60 Credit Points

The Strategic Studies dissertation is a compulsory element of the MSc Strategic Studies, Strategic Studies & International Law and Strategic Studies & Management degree programmes.

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 Scholarships 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

  • Group Projects
  • Lectures
  • Seminars

Assessment Methods

Assessment: by written examination, essay work, class presentation, and project work 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 mark of D3 or above in PI5901, irrespective of their performance in other courses.

Why Study Strategic Studies and Energy Security?

  • The programme scrutinises salient, real-world security issues which challenge governments, armed services, international organisations & business around the world.
  • This programme 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 & the student body is international with many countries represented.
  • This programme provides you with a strong methodology & 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, & 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, & international organisations (e.g., NATO, EU, UN, & think-tanks), or working as advisers to government (including in the UK, the US, EU, & East Asia).
  • PIR hosts an exciting range of events, including research seminars with world-renowned guest speakers, international policy, academic conferences, & other global policy-focussed forums.
  • The programme will allow you to gain exciting opportunities in a range of internships, fellowship & other kinds of work experience.
  • The programme delivers a balanced & comprehensive appreciation of the complex character of international security, in particular the energy dimension.
  • Inculcate an awareness of the costs& benefits of the strategies deployed, often of a military nature, to address energy security issues.
  • Enhance your understanding of the difficulties encountered when attempting to assess the prospects for stability & security in key, pivotal 'energy-rich' & 'energy-poor' regions of the international system. 
  • You will gain an insight to the immutable & enduring influence of certain core strategic issues, inherent in the management of power & coercion, on the international system regardless of levels of economic & social development.
  • 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 in International Relations, Politics, History, Geography, Economics, Law and cognate disciplines such as Business Studies.

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".

Useful Fact about this Subject

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

International Relations is ranked 7th in the UK

International Relations is ranked 7th in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2024.

What our Alumni Say

Lluviely García Quiroz

Lluviely García Quiroz

Lluviely García Quiroz

Graduated 2022

I chose the MSc Strategic Studies and Energy Security at the University of Aberdeen due to the diversity of knowledge and experiences on the transition path to guarantee energy security through the strategic theories application during the changing times. I realised that all the knowledge acquired would help me become an energy security leader in my field and country.

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.

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
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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!

Find out more
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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.

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

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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