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MA Applied Security Strategy

Course Description


• Educating and developing future leaders and decision makers
• Team taught by all SSI academics, it will involve leading academics from across the University and senior practitioners from the private sector, intelligence community, the military, NGOs, international organisations and across government
• Innovative teaching includes crisis management simulations with practitioners and at NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps HQ
• Fieldtrips to the Balkans and Brussels to view strategic security issues at first hand
• Exposure to Whitehall and participation in joint conferences with the Royal United Services Institute
• Excellent networking and mentor and peer support


Focusing on insecurity in the contemporary world, you will examine the nature of strategy and how it relates to both policy and action in a fast-evolving and volatile international system. This is a world where questions are being asked of traditional institutions and levers of state-craft. There is a pressing need for creative, disciplined thinkers able to turn their ideas into action.

The MA considers threats to national, international and human security, ranging from interstate conflicts to more diverse contemporary security challenges, such as terrorism, organised crime, resource denial and cyber security. You will investigate the drivers of instability, such as competition for resources in an age of increasing demand and financial austerity and look in detail at how the instruments of strategy, such as diplomacy and strategic communications, might be more effectively integrated.
You will learn how to design and manage strategic responses to crises, considering how decisions are made and the causes and consequences of miscalculation. This is not a war studies degree, but you will become familiar with the various forms of violent conflict, and learn through case studies, how the consequences are managed and, ideally, resolved.


The way we teach this programme is unique. Our aim is not just to expand your theoretical knowledge but to develop conceptual and practical skills in strategic analysis, planning and leadership which you will be able to apply wherever you decide to make your career (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/strategy/ma/learningandteaching/).

The MA, is taught by a carefully selected mix of internationally-respected academic experts and leading practitioners from the public, private and third sectors. Learning will have practical application, relevance and be informed by the latest thinking and hard-won experience.

Drawing on simulation and scenario-planning techniques employed by industry, government and the military, you will learn how to design and implement strategy in conditions mirroring the complexity, uncertainty and pressure experienced by senior leaders everywhere: strategy making is a transferable skill in many sectors.
Participating in exercises run on campus and, for example, at the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps HQ, you will hone the strategic skills demanded of those holding top positions in international organisations, NGOs, the private sector, government and the security sector, and those who support them.


To learn more about strategy in action, you will visit international organisations and engage with think tanks and policymakers to hear from and debate with those involved in dealing with insecurity, conflict and its aftermath. Overseas field trips to post-conflict zones in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe will give you an enhanced and intensely personal perspective of the complexities, dilemmas and consequences of security strategy (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/strategy/ma/learningandteaching/fieldtrips/).

Our innovative interdisciplinary approach will equip you with a multi-dimensional understanding of the nature of confrontation, crisis and conflict, including the political, legal, social, economic, information and military levers.

The MA will provide you with invaluable skills, insight, knowledge, and connections (via our unrivalled network of Honorary Professors and Fellows http://www.exeter.ac.uk/strategy/people/honoraryappointments/) if you wish to pursue a career in policy-making, diplomacy, the private sector, in an NGO, in the military, the media – indeed, any environment requiring strategic acumen, insight and leadership.

As an MA Applied Security Strategy graduate, we hope you will be part of a life-long network of learning and shared experience fostered by teamwork and collaboration on the course and continued through an enduring affiliation with the Strategy and Security Institute.

Visit the MA Applied Security Strategy page on the University of Exeter website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Gavin Saunders

As a reward for 9 years hard work in the British Army I was sent on a 6 month, all expenses paid, working holiday in Helmand Province. Working in the plans cell of a busy Headquarters introduced me to the difficulty of planning in the dynamic, multi-layered complexity of the current operating environment.

On leaving the Army I wanted to build on that experience and expand my understanding of the ‘levers’ that policy makers can bring to bear outside my narrow military experience. The Strategy and Security Institute’s programme promised the combination of theoretical understanding and practical application I was looking for – not to mention introducing us to some ‘heavy hitters’ in policy and strategy. So far the course has provided the fast paced, forward looking, intellectual environment I had been hoping for.

(Student Profile)

Daniel Hunt

I chose to delay my entry into the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst so that I could take the MStrat and, while a tough decision at the time, it has certainly been the right path to take.

The MStrat offers an unbeatable package for those looking to take an MA in the area of strategy and security. The content of the course and standard of teaching is superb, and the depth and openness of discussions and the applied facets of the course, such as the field trips to Brussels, the Somme and Bosnia as well as the Simulation Exercises and partnership with the Royal United Services Institute, make the yearlong MStrat very different to anything you will experience as an undergraduate.

It's also the relationships that can be built throughout the year that really make the course stand out. Thanks to members of staff such as General Professor Sir Paul Newton, the ability of SSI to attract distinguished speakers such as General David Petraeus, Sir Jonathan Evans and Lord Peter Hennessy is unrivaled by other universities.

I am extremely glad I made the decision to do the MStrat. I have enjoyed another year at Exeter immensely and know that taking the course will stand me in good stead both at Sandhurst next year and in whatever path my future career takes.


Funding for Postgraduate Study - 20+ Awards

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships and studentships for talented students. Students who reside in England and are interested in our Masters programmes can now take advantage of the UK government's postgraduate loan scheme which offers loans of up to £10,000.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Varies, but most awards are competitive and merit-based.

Application Procedure

Please see the details of each scheme as listed in our search: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/search

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Please see our website for full details. View Website

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