MA Intelligence and Strategic Studies – Daniele Irandoost

As a taught Masters student in Intelligence and Strategic Studies, I have found the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University an ideal place for pursuing postgraduate studies in subjects relating to politics and international relations.

For one, this is because prospective students will find a wide range of modules to choose from, including international relations theory, security, intelligence (as an espionage), postcolonialism, military history, and strategy amongst others.

Just to illustrate, I have taken the following modules: Thoughts of War: Strategic Theory & Thinkers; Postcolonial Politics; Violence and Civilization in World Politics; Intelligence, Security and International Politics since 1945; Contemporary Strategic Problems; and Cyber Security.

It is worth noting there is also the possibility of choosing one module from another department, be it law, geography, languages or otherwise (this could be either in the first or the second term). Although in most cases modules do run every year some may be on rotation, meaning they are only convened every other year. Before enrolling, I would certainly suggest asking the Department for confirmation to avoid disappointment.

One reason why I chose my degree scheme was because after having undertaken several closely-related modules as an undergrad in ‘Aber’ (within International Politics and Intelligence Studies), I was confident of the Department’s expertise in the field of intelligence and strategic studies. Furthermore, the prestige of the programme amongst private and state intelligence agencies, not to mention think tanks, security firms and the armed forces worldwide seemed particularly sensible for the future.

With respect to the Department as a whole, I have found its friendly atmosphere and the fact that there is always someone to help particularly important as a postgraduate student. Indeed, not only will students have their own individual supervisor, they could also get help from their module convenors in their office hours (which run twice per week).

A further benefit for doing a Masters at ‘InterPol’ is that the focus of all the modules is purely on independent study. In other words, rather than having any lectures which provide a general background to a specific topic, we are only required to attend seminars. This means of course that student will need to work harder to understand various topics effectively from scratch before they discuss them in seminars. Though, it should be mentioned module convenors will provide the necessary guidance and reading list in their respective module handbooks.

To complete the programme students must pass six modules plus a final dissertation overall. So, three modules in the first term, another three in the second term, and the dissertation in the summer term. The dissertation will be between 14,000 to 15,000 words – excluding bibliography and references – and will count to one-third of the overall grade. Also with respect to assignments each module will usually require two essays varying between 2000 to 4500 words. If not, grading could also be based on seminar performance, book review, report writing and presentation amongst others. The focus therefore is on producing quality work over the long term.

Before I finish off I should also mention several noteworthy facts which could prove useful. The university and the Department offer generous scholarships and bursaries for both international and domestic students. A brief look at the ‘funding and scholarship calculator’ page found on the university website is especially worth considering. Moreover, during term time the library and all its facilities are open 24/7. Students may also take out 25 books at a time from the library, which is usually more than enough, bearing in mind all the available online resources found in the university’s Primo search engine, not to mention the amazing National Library of Wales, which can sometimes be a lifesaver for postgraduates.

Daniele Irandoost
Taught MA Intelligence and Strategic Studies

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