MA Intelligence and Strategic Studies (Specialist)

The Masters in Intelligence and Strategic Studies is one of the most popular taught postgraduate schemes in the Graduate School. It blends the strengths of the Department of International Politics in the area of intelligence studies with that of strategic studies.

With regard to the former field, the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University is one of the leading centres in Western Europe for the teaching and research in intelligence studies. In terms of the sub-field of international relations, the Department was one of the pioneering centres for the study and teaching of strategic studies in the United Kingdom and appointed the first lecturer in strategic studies at a British university in the early 1960s.

Key Facts


One year full-time. The academic year (September to September) is divided into three semesters: September to January; January to June; June to September.

Contact Time:

During the first two semesters you will normally take one two-hour seminar per module per week. You will also have contact with academic staff through participation in research groups, attendance in departmental research seminars and masters workshops and through staff office hours (two one hour sessions per week). There will also be additional sessions working towards developing your master’s dissertation. During semester three you will arrange your level of contact time with your assigned supervisor.


Assessment will be through a combination of essays, reports, project work, and dissertation.  It may, depending on the modules chosen, include seminar presentations, review essays and literature searches.

Entry Requirements:

Good Undergraduate degree 2.2 (UK) (or above) equating to a mark of 56.5 or above. European and International applicants can find their grade equivalence on our comparability page. Those who are not graduates must satisfy the University that they are of the required academic standard to pursue postgraduate study.

English Language Requirements:

If you have a Bachelors' degree from a UK University, you do not need to take an English proficiency test.

Non-native English speakers who do not meet this requirement must take a University-recognised test of academic English language proficiency. For further information please see our English Language requirements page.

Course Fees:

Please see the tuition fee pages for current tuition fees. Please note that all fees are subject to an annual increase.


Funding opportunities may be available, please check our funding calculator for details.


This innovative Masters scheme is designed to facilitate the development of a critical awareness of the state of theory and practice in the field of intelligence studies in combination with an in-depth understanding of the contemporary use of force in international relations. The issues and debates explored include contending approaches and conceptual debates concerning the nature and definition of both intelligence and strategic studies, and their mutual relationship.

The Department is renowned for its pioneering research and is recognised as number one in the UK for the study of international politics. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), the Department of International Politics was placed best in Wales with 76% of publications submitted rated as world leading and internationally excellent.

The core modules are currently as follows:

  • Intelligence, Security and International Politics 1900-1945
  • Intelligence, Security and International Politics since 1945

Plus at least one of the following:

  • Thoughts of War
  • Strategic Theory and Thinking
  • Contemporary Strategic Problems

Optional Modules

Many core modules can be taken as options by Specialist pathway students on other Masters degree schemes in the Department (with the exception of core modules that are already oversubscribed). The department teaches a number of dedicated Masters options each year.

Our Staff

Lecturers in the Department of International Politics are all research active and qualified to PhD level, and most also have a PGCHE.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Options Specialist students must take both Degree Scheme Core Modules. Research Training students must take the Degree Scheme Module IPM0420

Semester 1

Thoughts Of War: Strategic Theory & Thinkers (s) IPM0920

Semester 2

Intelligence, Security And International Politics Since 1945 IPM0420

Year 1 Options In addition to the Degree Scheme core module and 40 credits from the 'basket' list, students on the Specialist pathway must take an additional 40 credits (2 modules) of modules which may include 1 x 20 credit modules outside the department if desired

Semester 1

Polisi A Chyunllunio Iaith Yng Nghymru Heddiw GWM9520

International Politics 1: Theories And Concepts (s) IPM0520

Postcolonial Politics IPM1320

Fear, Cooperation And Trust In World Politics IPM2220

Violence And Civilization In World Politics IPM5820

Islam And Modernity IPM8420

Language Policy And Planning In Wales Today IPM9520

Semester 2

Britain And Zion. The Arab-israeli Conflict In British Politics IPM1420

Power And Postwar Reconstruction: A Critical Approach IPM3820

International Communications In Asia-pacific: Power, Peoples And Propaganda IPM4020

The Strategy And Politics Of Nuclear Weapons 1945-present IPM4320

Security Policy In The European Union IPM6820

Year 1 Electives Specialist pathway students must choose 40 credits (2 modules) from the 'basket' list below (semester 1 and/or 2).

Semester 1

Intelligence, Security And International Politics 1900-45 IPM0320

Critical Security Studies: Emerging Issues IPM1220

Semester 2

British Counterinsurgency Warfare In The Twentieth Century IPM8820

Cyber Security IPM9820

Year 1 Core (60 Credits) Students must submit a dissertation on a topic relevant to their degree scheme. Students may submit their dissertation in either Welsh or English. Students wishing to submit their Dissertation in Welsh should register for GWM0060.

Semester 3

Dissertation IPM0060


Qualification: Intelligence and Strategic Studies

This degree will suit you:

  • If you want to study both Intelligence and Strategic Studies at Masters level
  • If you wish to develop a critical appreciation of the synchronous themes between Intelligence and Strategic Studies
  • If you wish to nurture a career in politics
  • If you desire formal recognition of skills highly sought-after by any postgraduate employer


Every course at Aberystwyth University is designed to enhance your vocational and general employability. Your Masters will place you in the jobs market as a highly-trained political specialist with a strength in depth of knowledge on vital subjects such as the organisation of intelligence, covert action, espionage, counter-intelligence, accountability, the impact of 9/11 and the role of intelligence in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to name some of the more prominent ones. The programme is designed to enable students to evaluate critically the competing interpretations of key international themes, episodes and events, and to acquire the practical skills necessary to work with the original source materials upon which these interpretations are based. You will also graduate with a wealth of postgraduate-level skills which are transferable into any workplace. In addition, the prestige of masters from our department of International Politics wills open doors for you into workplaces in every industry.

Study Skills

Alongside the wealth of world-class critical expertise, you will master highly desirable skills in academic research, analysis, argument-formation, presentation and debate. You will also prove your abilities in reflection and self-improvement; you will be able to identify your academic weaknesses and remove them whilst building on your strengths.

Self-Motivation and Discipline

Studying at Masters level requires discipline and self-motivation from every candidate. You will have access to the expertise and helpful guidance of departmental staff, but you are ultimately responsible for devising and completing a sustained programme of scholarly research in pursuit of your Master’s degree. This process of independent study at an extremely high level will strengthen your skills as an independent and self-sufficient worker, a trait prized by most employers.

Transferable Skills

The International relations Masters programme is designed to give you a range of transferable skills that you can apply in a variety of employment contexts.  Upon graduation, you will have proven your abilities in structuring and communicating ideas efficiently, writing for and speaking to a range of audiences, evaluating and organizing information, working effectively with others and working within time frames and to specific deadlines.

How to Apply

Postgraduate applicants can submit their application either on-line or off-line. Please see our How to Apply page for further information.

Departmental contact details 

Tel: (01970) 622708

Fax: (01970) 622709


Department of International Politics

Aberystwyth University

Penglais Campus

Aberystwyth University

SY23 3FE

If you'd like to see how we assess your application please click and watch our Application videos.

Further Information

It is important you feel at home in the Department, University and Town. Here are some links for you to explore these areas further:

Student Views

Postgraduate student Joseph Morbi talks about the Masters in Intelligence and Strategic Studies.