Strategic studies

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“We prepare and educate the next generation of strategic leaders — military, civilian and academic — in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region by providing internationally-recognised graduate and undergraduate programs in strategic and defence studies.”

- Dr John Blaxland, Head, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre

Asia is being transformed by great power contestation and a spectrum of national and international security challenges. At the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) our security courses will prepare you with the analytical frameworks needed to evaluate strategic choices, navigate our strategic environment and understand and respond to the challenges of our contemporary environment.

View our coursework guide [PDF 2.1MB]

Our programs

The SDSC offers two Masters programs:

Master of Strategic Studies

The Master of Strategic Studies combines the expertise of world leading academics and policymakers to deliver Australia’s foremost masters program at the intersection of strategic, defence, military and international studies.

Our program is designed for graduates seeking to launch or advance their careers in national defence, international security, counterterrorism, strategic policy, strategic planning, foreign affairs, intelligence, cyber security and academia.

The Master of Strategic Studies program investigates:

  • Australian strategic and defence policy
  • Strategic alliances and Australian security
  • Power politics in the Asia-Pacific and its strategic transformation
  • Ethics and technologies of war
  • Civil-military relations and military history
  • Disease, security and biological weapons
  • China's defence and strategic challenges
  • Intelligence, cyber security, and nuclear strategy in the Asian century
  • Counterinsurgency in modern warfare
  • The use of terrorism by extremist groups and counterterrorism efforts

Learn more about the program structure and courses.


Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced)

The Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) comprises of two parts: coursework and a research thesis.

In addition to knowledge and skills learnt in the traditional coursework, the thesis component of this program provides an opportunity to hone your research skills while being supervised by our world renowned academics.

Students wishing to pursue or leave open the possibility of further research work or PhD study are strongly encouraged to complete the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced).

Learn more about the program structure and courses.


Study with the experts

Our teaching faculty are leading academics and shapers of strategic policy:

  • Professor Brendan Taylor - specialises in great power strategic relations in the Asia-Pacific, strategy in Asia, Australian strategic policy in the Asia-pacific, economic sanctions and regional security architecture
  • Professor Evelyn Goh - specialises in East Asian security and international relations; US-China diplomatic history and contemporary strategic relations; international relations theory; Cold War history and security studies.
  • Professor John Blaxland - former Director of Joint Intelligence Operations, expert in intelligence; security; Australian military history and strategy; Southeast Asia/ASEAN; North America.
  • Dr Stephan Fruehling - was advisor to the Australian Government on the 2016 Defence White Paper. Dr Fruehling specialises in Australian strategic and defence policy; missile defence and nuclear weapons; NATO and strategic theory.
  • Professor Nina Silove - focuses on grand strategy; strategic planning; and US policy toward the Asia-Pacific.

Career scope

Our Master of Strategic Studies students have gone on to join the Australian Public Service (APS jobs) in: the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Home Affairs, Attorney General's Department, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Other career paths are within:

  • Think tanks, policy institutes, and research centres
  • Intergovernmental agencies
  • International trade and business
  • International development and aid organisations
  • NGOs
  • Universities and research institutions
  • Multinational corporations
  • International business consultancies
  • Media agencies and journalism


You can get both practical experience and credit towards your masters degree with an internship. Our students have had the opportunity to intern with organisations such as:

  • the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia (Singapore)
  • the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • the Chair of the Defence sub-committee for the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
  • the Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence
  • The Lowy Institute

Class profile

Students are encouraged to actively participate in classes, which are purposefully kept small and intimate to boost discussion and debate. Our courses are designed to accommodate full-time professionals looking to advance their careers and are therefore usually held after work hours.

The Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs also hosts a number of events each year. Students are encouraged to attend these as they are relevant to their studies and attract many high profile speakers.

Speakers from recent events include former Secretary of Defence, Dennis Richardson AO; Minister for Defence, the Hon Marise Payne; Director General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Duncan Lewis; and US Secretary of Defence, Jim Mattis.

Upcoming events can be viewed here

Enquire now to find out more


Graduate profile

Meet Esther Sainsbury

Meet Esther Sainsbury

I did my Masters in the evening while working full-time at the Department of Defence. It was manageable because the program is designed to accommodate the needs of full-time professionals looking to advance their careers. What I learned in class I applied in my professional life, which was a great way to mix theory and practice in my early career.

» read more

Nathalie Blakely

Meet Nathalie Blakely

I came to ANU to undertake a Master of Strategic Studies after being awarded the New Zealand Defence Freyberg Scholarship. I chose this program because of the world class scholars in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre. The education I've received here really aligns with what is expected in the sector.

» read more

Joel Einstein - Master of Strategic Studies

Meet Joel Einstein

I moved from Sydney to study the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) as it had a perfect mix of course topics I was interested in. The fact that the Centre has close links to government provided amazing career opportunities.

» read more

Elke Larsen

Meet Elke Larsen

My ability to think critically has gained new depth. I had a wonderful mentor who taught me the importance of rigorous methodology. I developed a strong ability to think about how strategy is implemented, and gained a greater confidence in my problem-solving skills. All of these skills have proven useful in my job as a consultant at PwC.

» read more

Anna Samson

Meet Anna Samson

It gives you insights, and challenges the ways in which you’ve looked at these sorts of problems. I could have done a lot of other courses which reinforced what I already knew, but what strategic studies offers is that big picture analysis that allows you to start asking and answering some really big questions.

» read more

Meet Rohana Prince

Meet Rohana Prince

I chose to do the Master of Strategic Studies program in order to study with Australia’s leading strategic thinkers.

» read more

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team