• Faculty of Arts And Social Sciences
  • sastera@um.edu.my
  • +603-79675500

Master of Arts (Strategic and Defence Studies)

The Master of Arts (Strategic and Defence Studies) is an advanced academic study that combines the theoretical and practical expertise of leading academics and policy-makers to deliver Malaysia's foremost strategic studies program. It is suitable if you plan to progress to a career with an international focus. The programmed is designed to develop the analytical frameworks you need to tackle the regional and global strategic and security challenges of your career, and graduate a leader in your field.

The Master of Arts (Strategic and Defence Studies) programme at the Department of International and Strategic Studies first started in November 1999 with an impressive intake of more than 40 students. Since then, the programme has continued to attract both local and international students who wish to further their studies in the field of International Relations, Defence and Strategic Studies. Applicants for the programme come from various academic disciplines and professional backgrounds including politics, law, economics, humanities, military and science. The Department’s empirical focus revolves around Malaysia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Middle East, Africa and the Great Powers. Currently emphasis is also placed on the study of conflict resolution, human security, human rights, climate change, environmental politics, regionalism, international development and managing peace in post-conflict areas.

At the end of programme, student should be able to achieve the following Programme Learning Outcome (PO):

Master knowledge in the field of Strategic Studies and Defense covering various aspects in the working place.

Demonstrate concern for international phenomena in performing social responsibilities in the career and daily life.

Apply knowledge from the field of Strategic and Defense Studies to analyze international phenomena.

Possess communication skills, have leadership skills and teamwork ability in a multicultural and racial environment.

Possess communication skills, leadership attributes and the ability to work as a team in multicultural and multiracial environments.

Possess the skills to contribute ideas and suggestions as well as make analysis in dealing with international issues.

Possess the skills in the application of knowledge and competitiveness in the involved field and in the process of lifelong learning.

Practicing values, ethics and professionalism when dealing with issues in international relations.



Many students ask “What type of job could I get with a degree in International and Strategic Studies?” The answer depends on your choice of specialisation, interests, experiences, skills. The discipline of International Relations, creating a literal world of opportunity. Your task, as a scholar, is to define your area of expertise and map out how You want to make a difference. Do you want to study the military and terrorism as they influence foreign policy, or observe factors that contribute to a credible peace process in war-torn society? Are you interested in the role international organisations play in agenda-setting and the creation of international norms? Do you think culture and society are the key drivers for current events? Do you want to work in public sector for the government or semi-governmental agency in the private sector for a multinational corporation, bank, or firm, or in the non-profit sector for a non-governmental organisation or research institute?  Whatever your personal philosophical endeavours, opportunities abound.

Since 1998, we have produced the first batch of graduates who specialised their degree programme (either at the undergraduate and postgraduate level) in International and Strategic Studies. The ability of our students to master various fundamental and soft skills with global outlooks, lateral thinking and international concerns (see the Programme Outcome) in resolving various tasks and issues has allowed them to secure a better job prospect within 6 months after graduation. The diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the discipline, namely the International and Strategic Studies have allowed students to secure a working attachment in various organisations and corporations. 

Some opted for a career path in diplomatic services and foreign affairs, attached as the civil servants in various governmental ministries (both at the federal and state governmental levels), defence and intelligence sectors, various local, regional and international branches or agencies under the United Nations system, banking and financial sectors, and private firms, especially in human resource division, marketing strategists and insurance companies.

Others opted for more challenging yet global working environments, including working with multinational corporations (MNCs), international and local non-governmental agencies, civil societies, and charity works, professional and freelance writers, volunteer services, further studies and teaching options in various local and international universities, and as well as in pursuing study or professional development enhancement upon completion of their study in UM. 

With the growing numbers of international students, the biggest ratio amongst all of the departments in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in UM and Malaysia, many of our international students secured the job attachments and intern placements at either their respective embassies or diplomatic missions in Malaysia or major firms and banking sectors at their home countries. Our strength lies in the ability to offer a degree programme with similar international recognises universities that specialised in International Relations with a strong encouragement to master more than one language or medium of instruction.

Additionally and apart from rigorous academic training, we focus on providing the extra-curricular activities among the Department’s multinational students, including the public lecture from retired diplomats and foreign services, one-day study visit to various public, diplomatic and think-thank organizations and the diplomatic simulation games of the Model United Nations (MUN) Conference. You may find out more about this from our Department’s website.

Given the competitiveness of working market and intense competitions of labour forces from other local universities, the Department has taken a step further in having a compulsory and an additional course that provides industrial training exposure, aiming at providing students with the pre-professional degree experience before the actual graduation. The course is compulsory upon all of our final year students (undergraduates). You can find out more about the syllabus and assessment from our Department’s webpage.

During their industrial training placement, Students develop many widely transferable skills during their studies including excellent written and verbal communications skills, research skills and notably, an understanding of complex political and cultural issues. Particular skills gained include the ability to research using a variety of sources. Students can create, evaluate and assess a range of options, sift material and weigh up arguments. Students are able to critically analyse information and can assess problems and arguments, reach conclusions and discuss them clearly. You may find out more about our recent graduates and alumni testimonials from the Department Website, and check on the Alumni and Development section at https://ir.um.edu.my

Students applying for the Master of Arts (Strategic and Defence Studies) must meet the University’s admission requirements, and should have relevant Bachelor’s Degree (with Honours, normally second upper class) or its equivalent in the related field.

A strong preference will be given to applicants having a Bachelor’s Degree with CGPA 3.0 and above or its equivalent. The minimum CGPA 3.0 and above is required for the application of the Master of Arts (Strategic and Defence Studies) programme.

The Department considers the applicant with the CGPA below 3.0 if only the applicant obtains their first degree from UM, or the applicant has the outstanding academic publications, or the applicant has professional working experiences in broadly relevant field to politics and international relations.

For information related to Admission, Application and Entry Requirement, please refer to https://aasc.um.edu.my/

The application deadline for MSDS programme as follows:

 Admission in Semester I (September)

 The intake is between April and May, before the starting of Semester I

 Please check with the University website for the up-to-date advertisement.

Application must be submitted online at: http://pgadmission.um.edu.my

Firstly, please complete online application form from http://pgadmission.um.edu.my. Secondly, upload all the required supporting documents as needed.

Finally, once all the online procedures is completed, kindly go to ‘Click To Confirm Application’ button to get the complete application form. Please keep the documents for your own record.

You are not allowed to edit your online application after pressing ‘Click To Confirm Application’ button.

You may check your application status from two months after the date of you application as the following link: http://pgadmission-status.um.edu.my

Last Update: 25/04/2024