Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Maritime) - ICSC(M)

Joint Services Command and Staff College
10 weeks - residential

About this course

The aim of the ICSC(M) is to provide world class intermediate command and staff training and education for naval officers and their civilian counterparts in order to support the operational effectiveness of the Royal Navy (RN) , Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

It will prepare you for staff, command and leadership roles in the RN and joint environment and is the only course of its kind taught in the UK.  The ICSC(M) syllabus is accredited to post graduate standard by King’s College London and will develop your leadership; analytical and communication skills; understanding of the international environment; knowledge of UK defence management & military capabilities.  It will further increase your appreciation of how maritime power contributes to joint and combined operations. 

The course is part of the RN education pathway, which describes the generic command and staff training that RN officers may receive from Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) through to the Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC). 

What you will learn

You will learn to explain the position of the UK within the international environment and how the maritime input to defence supports the UK’s interests at home and abroad.  The strategic studies module covers a wide range of subjects which aim to set the strategic context within which UK maritime forces operate supported through visits to joint and single Service headquarters. Subjects include: 
  • globalisation and security
  • British politics, foreign, and defence policies
  • international security organisations (EU, UN, NATO)
  • global and regional security studies
  • UK Defence Management
  • acquisition policy
  • equipment capability
  • defence strategy
  • strategic deterrence
You will understand the contributions of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to Defence. This package studies the core capabilities of the UK armed forces and the environments in which they operate. Supported by a Joint Staff consisting of Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Army and Royal Air Force officers, the maritime contribution to Defence is also studied.

The utility and constraints of military force are explored covering topics such as: 
  • military power
  • legal and ethical issues
  • the nature and character of current and future conflict
  • terrorism & counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. 
Combined Operations are discussed exposing the specific challenges faced during NATO and other coalition operations and students are introduced to the Maritime Tactical Estimate. The 3 day tour to the Normandy beaches or Belgium will enable you to experience this environment first-hand. 

You will analyse the application of Maritime Power across the full spectrum of conflict. The maritime studies module (Strategy, Environment, Capabilities, and the Royal Navy) aims to develop your understanding of the unique nature and importance of the maritime environment whilst putting the Royal Navy properly into the context of the strategic environment.

You will evaluate the importance of Command, Leadership, Management, Ethics and Ethos (CLME). The ICSC(M) provides an important opportunity for you to discuss a wide range of CLME topics and take stock of your own personal development. 

These studies are inter-woven throughout the course with opportunities taken to expose you to the personal experiences and insights of CLME from a wide range of speakers.  A number of historical leaders are studied to draw out the lessons for contemporary maritime officers; these are supported by syndicate room discussions and tutorials which allow the key issues to be further explored and debated.  This part of the course culminates in the delivery of individual CLME presentations during which you will explain why your chosen leader may or may not have been successful.

You will demonstrate critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate effectively (oral and written). The staff & communication skills module is spread throughout the course with much of the work being done as part of other elements of ICSC(M).  

As you are expected to have completed the online electronic Defence Writing (eDW) package before arriving, you will very rapidly be taken through and tested on the fundamental Defence writing conventions early on in the course. You will learn and develop these skills whilst studying other elements of the course syllabus by delivering formal and informal presentations and briefings, submitting various styles of written work, or leading and contributing in syndicate room discussions. The emphasis is on effective communication using the most appropriate method and media to share information and improve understanding.

This module also includes problem solving, working practices and management strategy using syndicate exercises to consolidate and reinforce all these points.  This module focuses on the a, b, c of all good staff work – accuracy, brevity & clarity. 

The course is intensive and challenging, designed to bring you right up-to-date with the latest challenges and issues facing the RN.  

Within the demanding study programme there are opportunities for social and sporting activities which aid syndicate and course bonding and the exchange of ideas. The wide range of courses at the Defence Academy undertaken by UK armed forces officers, other government department officials and those from international military forces, enables informal engagement, thus enhancing the student learning experience as much as possible. You will be exposed to first class academic lecturers and external speakers with expertise from military, professional and academic backgrounds that will share their experience and knowledge and invite discussion and debate. 

How will this course help my career?

The course will prepare you for future leadership and management roles, increasing your knowledge of maritime and joint working within a national and international context. It will develop your critical thinking skills and challenge you to analyse and interpret information from available sources to reach a reasoned and justifiable conclusion, skills highly transferable across all job markets.  

For Royal Naval officers this is a prerequisite for attendance on the Advance Command and Staff Course and subsequent Higher Command and Staff Course. 

Security and restrictions

Restrictions on attendees:
You should have some experience of working with the RN or in the maritime environment.  It is designed for RN senior lieutenants or newly promoted lieutenants commanders. Configured to capture all officers already selected for transfer to a Career Commission or Full Term Commission and promotion to lieutenants commander , or those who are reasonably expected to achieve commission transfer and promotion in the future.

RM captains and majors along with civil servants (minimum Band D) working in Navy Command HQ, maritime related posts in the MOD, Defence Equipment & Support or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Security caveats:
You are required to be SC cleared to participate on the course. 

Nationality caveats:
International students are welcomed subject to current MOD policy.

Before you attend

You must have a Defence Gateway account in order to access your course material and complete the pre course essential reading and exercises. If you do not have an account, please go to for further information on how to create one.   

You should also have a valid passport (with a minimum of 6 months until its expiry). This is so that you can participate in the tour of Normandy or Belgium in the penultimate week of your course. The tour may prove difficult for those with severe mobility challenges as some elements take place over difficult terrain. You are advised to consult the Royal Naval Division if you are concerned about completing this element of the course.

Military students are expected to have completed the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Naval Analysis Course within six months of commencing ICSC(M).

As a minimum, you must complete the following prior to your residential course:

Staff and Communication Skills. In preparation for this component, you should familiarise yourself with Joint Service Publication (JSP) 101, Defence Writing Guide (in particular Chapter 6) and complete a written exercise which will help you apply JSP 101 in practice. You may also wish to complete the online electronic defence writing (eDW) package noting this takes approximately 2hrs to complete. 

Command, Leadership, Management and Ethos/Ethics. As part of your pre-course preparation, you should arrive having completed a brief essay (1-2 sides of A4 paper) on the following topic: ‘Leadership and management is the backbone of command.' Using your own experiences, examine whether this is true in today’s Royal Navy’. This is designed to encourage you to form a personal opinion in preparation for future discussions.

Maritime Tactical Estimate (MTE). You should arrive on the course possessing a basic awareness of the MTE planning tool. The aim of this element of the course is not to train the basics but to develop your understanding of the process. If you have not experienced planning using this tool you should complete the online training course available on the DLE. It is strongly advised that even if you have utilised the MTE tool, use the online course as a refresher.

Essential Reading. The essential pre-reading is the absolute minimum to set the initial context for what will be an intense period of study. This should take approximately 4 hours. 

a. Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2045.
b. Joint Doctrine Publication 0-10 British Maritime Doctrine.
c. The Future Operating Environment 2035 (Introduction, Chapters 1, 2, 3 Key Points (at the end of each chapter), Commanders Perspective.
d. Maritime Doctrine Primer (Second Edition).
e. The Globalisation of World Politics, Chapter 1.

Desirable Reading.  You should familiarise yourself with the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence Review 2015. A Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom. 

Course Administration. Complete an electronic Student Pre-joining Form along with a short biography.

Can I attend this course?

This course is suitable for the following type(s) of applicant.
  • Internationals
  • Military
  • MOD Civil Servants
  • Partners Across Government (PAG)
  • MOD civil servants must be Band D or above
  • OGD personnel must be EO equivalent or above

How will I learn?

Classroom, E-Learning

How will you be assessed?

You will be assessed through a series of formative and summative exercises designed to test your communication (verbal and written), intellectual, analytical, leadership and inter personal skills. 

Formative exercises are designed to provide you with feedback which you can use to identify your strengths and weakness and target specific areas prior to summative assessment. 

Summative exercises evaluate your work and contribute to your final end of course result. This includes a 2 hour exam in the penultimate week of your course. You will have access to naval and academic staff to ensure that you receive guidance and support throughout your course. 

You need to score a minimum of 50% to pass the course. A certificate with your overall award (pass; pass with merit (upper/lower) or distinction) will be presented to you upon successful completion. 

Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Management. This is self-funded (at a reduced rate) and you can apply directly to the CMI on successful completion of your course. 

ILM Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Executive Management awarded by The City & Guilds of London Institute. For naval officers this will be automatically applied for on your behalf once you have successfully completed the course.  

Kings College London (KCL). You may be awarded 20 credits towards the 180 required for the Master of Arts degree, War in the Modern World. You must have achieved a pass mark of at least 50% in the defence studies academic exam (taken in week 9 of your course) and will need to register directly with KCL.  

Kings College London (KCL). Enrolment on the ICSC(M) provides you with the opportunity to enter into and pursue a part-time course of study (from 2 to 6 years) leading to a Master of Arts degree in Defence and Security Studies (Maritime). Successful completion of your residential course, coupled with a short essay related to your tour of Normandy or Belgium will result in the award of the first 60 credits. You will complete the remaining 120 credits post ICSC(M) through distance (online) learning modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

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