Graduate-level training and education that develops critical thinkers, innovative problem-solvers and ethical leaders

The Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) provides training and education for:Three people in RAF, Navy and Army uniform smiling and talking in a small group

  • UK armed forces
  • civil servants
  • international allies

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 a rapidly changing strategic environment, 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.

JSCSC’s mission is to deliver the ‘intellectual edge’ required to achieve success on operations and leadership in defence, through:

  • study of contemporary strategic and military issues, complemented by facilitated group discussions, practical exercises and defence engagement
  • striving to create a diverse and questioning learning environment that fosters ingenuity, critical thinking and debate

The college has 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.

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 and staff officers for the highest levels of operational command and control, to hone their ‘intellectual edge’ to meet the challenges of the modern world in an era of constant competition; able to successfully operate below the threshold of conflict whilst being ready to instantaneously transition to warfighting when required.

The majority of students are UK military, although overseas military officers and key partners from other British government departments and UK industry 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.

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.

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.

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 reservists 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.

The Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Maritime) – known as ICSC(M) - provides world class intermediate command and staff training and education for naval officers and their civilian counterparts to support the operational effectiveness of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

It will prepare students for staff (operational and HQ), command and leadership roles in the Royal Navy and joint environment and will develop their:

  • leadership skills
  • critical thinking
  • communication skills
  • understanding of the international environment
  • knowledge of UK defence management and military capabilities

ICSC(M) comprises a series of modules. The foundation module is a 4-week residential module and prepares students for the subsequent modules, which are a mix of distance and residential learning; a final consolidation week completes the course. The residential elements all utilise tuition and syndicate work to ensure peer-to-peer learning is enabled.

The subsequent modules are:

  • Self-awareness: this distance-learning module focuses on developing the skills necessary to develop an individual’s leadership from the perspective of self
  • Organisational leadership: this distance-learning module is designed to enhance an individual’s understanding of leadership from the perspective of the organisation
  • Planning for operations: this 2-week residential module covers the key skills for planning and the employment of maritime capabilities in the operational environment
  • Business skills: this distance-learning module presents students with a broad strategic context within which to identify a gap in the defence procurement cycle

On completion students are awarded a Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Executive Management (awarded by the Institute of Leadership and Management).

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, 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
  • 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 e-Learning military knowledge syllabus for officer career development and promotion from second lieutenant to major.

The Intermediate Officer Development Programme (IODP), run by the RAF Division, 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 the programme are 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 the IODP 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).

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