Joint Services Command and Staff College

The Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) provides graduate-level training and education that develops critical thinkers, innovative problem-solvers and ethical leaders across the UK armed forces, as well as Civil Servants and international allies.

In a rapidly changing strategic environment (geopolitical, economic, technological and environmental), JSCSC supports defence to ensure our people have the skills they need to address current and future security and defence challenges, at home and abroad.

As part of the Defence Academy, JSCSC’s mission is to deliver the ‘intellectual edge’ required to achieve success on operations and leadership in defence. We do this through the study of contemporary strategic and military issues, complemented by facilitated group discussions, practical exercises and defence engagement. Across our courses, we strive to create a diverse and questioning learning environment that fosters ingenuity, critical thinking and debate.

In the Information Age, the battlefield has changed. Therefore, how we train and educate our armed forces must also continuously evolve. JSCSC develops the specific military skills and awareness to equip our personnel for the demands of the full spectrum of operations in the information age. In JSCSC there is an increasing focus on the impact of technology, cyber, space and big data, as well as emerging strategic trends and risks. We are developing war and decision gaming as tools to enable learning in complex strategic and operational contexts.

JSCSC is supported by our academic partner, King’s College London’s Defence Studies Department who provide a portfolio of accredited masters pathways. Each course is supported by a range of eminent contributors and speakers from the UK and overseas, military and non-military, who share their expertise with the course.

JSCSC supports a range of pathways and programmes, delivered from the modern, purpose-built Cormorant Building at the Defence Academy’s Shrivenham site. The bespoke learning environment offered by the JSCSC enables students to develop relationships across not just the UK military and Civil Service, but also with our international allies.

Higher Command and Staff Course

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The Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC) is a combined, joint and interagency defence and security course delivered at the post-graduate level.

The course focuses on preparing future leaders for the highest levels of operational command, to hone the ‘intellectual edge’ to meet the challenges of the modern world, both on and off the battlefield.

The majority of students are UK military, although overseas military officers and key partners from other British government departments also attend. The course is delivered through a combination of lectures, syndicate room discussions, exercises and visits. Although it is underpinned by the study of the global context and the formulation of strategy, the course is centred around a full spectrum approach to command at the operational level of conflict. The course is reviewed annually to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of contemporary security education.

Through academic insight, peer-to-peer learning, reflection time and regular mentorship, attendees will build a network of like-minded security professionals to support them throughout their careers. As a cohort, those on HCSC will delve into:

  • national strategies
  • decision-making within crisis-management and operational design
  • the utility of force
  • individual leadership in preparation for higher command

Because modern warfare is continuously evolving, HCSC is reviewed annually to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of contemporary security education.

HCSC is a 16-week annual course running from early January to late April.

The course is supported by King’s College London’s Defence Studies Department with specially selected distinguished lectures and speakers. There is no academic award as a result of attending HCSC.

It is not possible to apply to attend HCSC. Attendance by overseas and partners across government course members is by specific invitation only. All attendees must attain the specified security accreditation to attend the course.

Advanced Command and Staff Course

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The Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC) prepares mid-ranking military officers and Civil Servants for senior positions by broadening their professional knowledge on a wide spectrum of military, political and international issues.

As an integral part of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, ACSC supports UK military officers, international allies and Civil Servants to develop the intellectual edge required to achieve success on operations and leadership in government.

Over the course of a year, ACSC graduates are supported to think critically, operate innovatively, and question wisely. With these attributes, we believe our officers and officials will best be supported to make sound decisions that evaluate moral, ethical and legal considerations within a military context and in a demanding environment.

ACSC study focuses on four major themes:

  • understanding the world through a theoretical grounding in international relations and strategy
  • managing the defence enterprise by developing business skills
  • applying the military instrument in the Information Age as part of an integrated force
  • all of this delivered within a continuous wrap of command, leadership, and ethics

Because modern warfare is continuously evolving, ACSC is reviewed annually to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of contemporary defence education.

ACSC is delivered in partnership with King’s College London’s Defence Studies Department. Course members have the opportunity to select from a number of postgraduate programmes, including the MA in Defence Studies (MADS), MSc in Defence Innovation (MSc DI), and Masters by Research in Defence Studies (MRes).

ACSC also offers a specifically tailored course for reserves through blended learning. The 7-month ACSC (Reserves) course is delivered online and through residential study.

It is not possible to apply to attend ACSC. Attendance is by invitation only. If you are interested in finding out more or to register interest, UK military personnel should contact your career managers. Civil Servants should contact Defence Main Effort Civilian (DMEC). International military officers should contact the UK Defence Attaché in that country.

Royal Navy Division

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The Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Maritime) - or ICSC(M) - is designed to equip maritime officers and warrant officers with the staff skills, critical thinking and operational awareness to succeed in the primary and secondary stages of their careers. ICSC(M) is delivered by the Royal Navy Division and is an integral part of the Defence Academy’s Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC).

As modern warfare is continually evolving, so is ICSC(M) with an enhanced focus on disruptive and innovative thinking, multi-domain operation, contemporary security issues and specific business skills.

ICSC(M) is a full-time 10-week course that implements hybrid learning, with a mixture of residential, remote and digital learning. Its course structure and delivery format is developed closely with the Royal Navy to meet operational and educational requirements.

Officers normally attend as senior lieutenant and lieutenant commander level. It is open to Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Fleet Auxiliary officers, and Civil Servants, as well as overseas officers. For more information or to register your interest, UK military personnel should contact your career manager.

A shorter version of ICSC(M) is available for the Maritime Reserves.

ICSC(M) is partnered with King’s College London and graduates can earn credits towards a war studies degree.

Army Division

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The Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land) - or (ICSC(L)) – is designed to train, educate and assess majors for grade 1 and 2 staff appointments to develop leadership and the intellectual edge necessary for operational success.

Delivered by the Army Division at the Defence Academy’s site in Shrivenham, ICSC(L) is a 26-week residential course attended by officers from the Army, Royal Marines and allied nations. Through a series of research studies, planning exercises and projects, and engagement with senior leaders, students on ICSC(L) will better understand:

  • Army command and staff skills
  • command, leadership and management
  • British Army staff training in land environment operations
  • brigade and divisional levels of command
  • planning of formation level operations in a joint and NATO command context
  • UK government resilience operations
  • historical case studies from the Normandy campaign
  • global effects of defence on British defence policy
  • management of UK defence and the Army operating model
  • the factors driving battlefield capability

Upon completion, students will have the opportunity to study for the defence-sponsored Army Higher Education Pathway MSc with Henley Business School, or with institutions including King’s College London, Plymouth University, Anglia Ruskin University, Staffordshire University, and other institutions on a variety of MSc, MA, and MBA programmes.

During the course, students will have the opportunity to visit:

  • Normandy, France to study land operations including Operation GOODWOOD and operations surrounding the Falais Gap
  • the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, USA to conduct collaborative planning exercises with the equivalent US course
  • MOD Main building and a variety of associated organisations
  • the Army Headquarters
  • Defence Equipment and Support

Army Division also delivers the Intermediate Command and Staff Course for the Land Reserves (ICSC(LR)) and provides the eLearning military knowledge syllabus for officer career development and promotion from second lieutenant to major.

Royal Air Force Division

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The Intermediate Officer Development Programme (IODP), run by the RAF Division at the Defence Academy, trains and educates junior officers, squadron leaders and select warrant officers to develop the intellectual edge needed for success on operations and in leadership.

IODP is vital to ensure that RAF personnel have the knowledge, skills and understanding to operate and meet the challenges of the modern world, both on and off the battlefield.

To do so, IODP develops RAF officers incrementally through five sequential courses, starting at Intermediate Officer Development 1 (IOD1), IOD2 and IOD3 at 2-year intervals. IOD4 typically follows promotion to squadron leader and is followed by IOD5, which concludes the IODP.

IOD courses focus on building knowledge and understanding of:

  • air power
  • command and leadership
  • management
  • the global strategic context

Those undertaking IODP are also expected to develop analytical skills, critical thinking, resilience and collaborative approaches to complex problem-solving. The IODP is delivered face-to-face, digitally or through blended learning. Residential elements are preceded by up to 30 hours of online learning.

Allied nations are welcome to request their officers attend IODP training and education as one way to promote defence engagement.

The RAF Division has academic links with King’s College London, Staffordshire University, Portsmouth University, Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).