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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.”

- - Professor Brendan Sargeant, Head, Strategic and 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.


The Asia-Pacific is being transformed by great power contestation and a spectrum of national and international security challenges. Studying a Master of Strategic Studies or a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) at ANU will equip you with the intellectual tools needed to evaluate strategic choices, navigate the strategic environment and understand the challenges of an evolving global order.

If you're interested in issues of strategic importance to Australia, addressing how political ends and military means interact, understanding the origins, applications and implications of war and other forms of organised violence, our strategic studies program is for you.

The program is designed for graduates and professionals seeking to launch or advance their careers in national or international security, counterterrorism, strategic policy, intelligence, foreign affairs, think tanks and academia.

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, cybersecurity 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, cybersecurity, 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.

Apply now

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.

Apply now

Study with the experts

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre has a unique multidisciplinary blend of teaching staff that includes not just academics who are leaders in their fields of Asia-Pacific security, defence studies and Australian defence, but former high ranking Department of Defence officials, former intelligence offers, and staff with extensive military and naval experience. This blend of academics and experienced practitioners has made SDSC a leader in the field of strategic studies for more than 50 years. Among the academics are:

  • 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 Brendan Sargeant - specialises in Australian strategic and defence policy; Australian government reform, organisation and enterprise governance, planning, performance and risk management.
  • Dr Jean Bou - specialises in the history of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century warfare, aspects Australian military history and was the lead author for a volume of the Australian official history of peacekeeping, humanitarian and post-Cold War Operations.
  • Dr Stephan Fruehling - specialises in Australian strategic policy; nuclear strategy; NATO and US alliances, and was a member of the External Panel of Experts on the 2016 Defence White Paper.
  • Dr Amy King - specialises in Chinese foreign and security policy, China-Japan relations, historical and contemporary approaches to international order, the nexus between economic and security issues, and ideational approaches to the study of International Relations.

The learning experience

Our courses are designed to accommodate full-time professionals looking to advance their careers and are therefore usually held after work hours. The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) also hosts several events each year with high profile speakers - students are encouraged to attend these as they are relevant to their studies. 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 Assistant Secretary of State, David Stilwell and more.

You will graduate from ANU, a world-class university, positioning you firmly in the centre of a global network of leading diplomatic and international legal scholars and policy-makers.

ANU is ranked #1 in Australia and #8 in the world in Politics and International Studies.

Career pathways

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 include:

  • 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


The Australian National University (ANU) offers a wide range of scholarships to students to assist with the cost of their studies.

Eligibility to apply for ANU scholarships varies depending on the specifics of the scholarship and can be categorised by the type of student you are. Specific scholarship application process information is included in the relevant scholarship listing. Scholarships available to students commencing or currently enrolled in the Master of Strategic Studies include:

T.B. Millar Scholarship: the scholarship pays the tuition fee for the two core courses (or their equivalents) for a total of 24 units of coursework. Available to domestic and international students.

Robert O’Neill Scholarship: $8,000 stipend to assist with accommodation, living expenses and a Canberra-Singapore return economy-class flight. The objective of the award is to provide the means for a high achieving domestic or international student to undertake an internship with the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) - Asia office in Singapore.

The Freyberg Scholarship (New Zealand Defence Scholarship) is available for New Zealand citizens wishing to undertake the Master of Strategic Studies offered by The Australian National University.

For further information see the Scholarships website.

Upcoming events can be viewed here.

Enquire now to find out more

Updated:  29 September 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team