Defence Studies As A Career And Academic Discipline In India


Increasingly, many of us find ourselves in appointments where we are required to articulate the case for Indian defence policy, the Armed Forces, command and control organisations, procurement and management issues and so on. It is a long list of challenges and requires thought, awareness and, above all, knowledge of why the world is the way it is.

Defence Studies expose the individuals to an in-depth analysis of contemporary events and issues in this multilateral, unpredictable world. Global conflict and the threat of war has been a concern for all nations for several decades. Internal and regional political instability, economic turmoil and poor international relations have bothered all governments. While diplomacy plays an integral role in maintaining peace in a region, internal security and preparedness for combat are issues that are an integral part of governance. Defense studies, also known as war studies, defense and strategic studies, military science or national security studies, as an academic discipline is assuming significance as we need trained planners, strategists and analysts.

Until the 1980s, Security & Strategic Studies was seen as the discipline responsible for the study of security issues, back then reduced to military affairs. Since then, Security Studies has become, particularly in Europe, a more common label to indicate the discipline responsible for the study of security. Since the late 1980s, there has been a remarkable change in the way security is conceived, studied and practiced.  The academic field of Security Studies has been the subject of intense academic, intellectual and political debate during this period.  The main aim of this course is to introduce students to main debates in Security Studies by tracing the development of Security Studies from its Cold War past to its post-Cold War present and opening up alternative ways of thinking about the future. A dash of history stirred into political science sprinkled with a liberal dose of strategy — intrigued by this recipe? Then Defence and Strategic Studies is a territory which you must explore.

After World War II, there was a great deal of interest in national security issues worldwide. During this period, the Defence and Strategic Studies course was first introduced in India. Defence studies provides the opportunity to do both. Today’s youngsters may be attracted to the armed forces, but few know that defence studies also offers career opportunities in a world in which the line between traditional and upcoming careers has become blurred. Defence studies has established itself as a subject to be reckoned with as most universities have introduced it at the graduate or postgraduate levels in the country. International relations, national security, tackling terrorism and strategic planning, if these are topics that interest you, then a career involving research in these subjects is possible with a degree in Defence Studies.

How many students opt for a Masters degree in Defence and Strategic Studies? Not many but this course has good scope and is related to defence and security and its awareness for our nation. It covers all strategic and domestic issues that affect the security and defence of the nation, and helps the candidate to gain adequate military education, mainly the historical and geographical aspects. By gaining awareness on war and its associated problems, one can help the government in strategic policy development. Candidates who complete the course successfully are highly in demand in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy.

There are many famous colleges in Punjab (Government. Mohindra College, Modi College, Khalsa College in Patiala, Khalsa College Anandpur Sahib, Guru Gobind College Sanghera(Barnala), Khalsa College Domeli (Kapurthala) under GNDU, ), Haryana (University College Rohtak, 4 Government Colleges of Mahendergarh, 2 Government Colleges of Jhajjar, Government College Meham, Government College Baudhkala Bhiwani, 4 Colleges in Hissar, Govt Science College Karnal, Panchkula, Bahadurgarh and many more colleges offered Defence Studies in BA as a subject in Haryana ) and Chandigarh (Government College Sector 11 and Government College Sector 46 ) that offer an undergraduate degree with Defence Studies as a subject.

In Punjab, while Punjabi University has a postgraduate department which was set up in 1969 under the stewardship of Dr. Fauja Singh, one of the prominent historians of Punjab on its campus in Patiala. The input of students for Post-graduate studies includes boys and girls from Humanities, Social Sciences and Pure Sciences. The students from different parts of India and abroad have completed their Master’s Degree in the subject and are well-settled in their respective countries on the basis of the degrees acquired from this department, Guru Nanak Dev University runs graduate classes in the subject. In Chandigarh, Panjab University has a Department of Defence and National Security Studies. The Department was established in the year 2001. It offers Master’s course in Defence & Strategic Studies including research degree programmes. The admission in Masters Course is open to all the students from various streams but preference is given to the applicants who have studied Defence Studies/Military Science at graduation level. 5 seats are reserved for the serving defence personnel. The Department also offers M.Phil course in Defence & Strategic Studies to the defence service officers posted at HQ Army Training Command, Shimla including its 29 training establishments and Western Command, Chandi Mandir. The Department is running One-year Postgraduate Diploma Course and Three-months Executive Certificate Course in Disaster Management & Security. In Jammu University also there is a National Security Chair which was established a few years back. The newly established Central University of Jammu is also offering Masters course in Defence and Strategic Studies from its first opening session in 2012.

The courses offered there today are B.A. (as a subject), M.A., M. Phil., Certificate Courses, P.G. Diplomas and Ph.D. Defence and Strategic Studies is an interdisciplinary subject which includes, among other topics, the study of National Security, Military History, International Relations, Military Geography, Science and Technology, Modern Strategic Thought, Military Psychology, Military Sociology, Area Studies South Asia-China-Pakistan, International Law, Theory and Practice of War, Disaster management, Indian Ocean, Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies, Map Reading and Defence economics etc. Students from different disciplines opt for this course and wide arrays of opportunities are available once you complete it.

The Nation faces a worrying dearth of academic courses in Defence Studies. A need to highlighted the and create a greater awareness about the opportunities that existed in the field of defence and military studies, mainly due to the scarcity of qualified personnel. The main subjects could include a comprehensive study on armed forces; military studies; the meaning, definition and scope of military strategy; wartime and peacetime studies; study of foreign policy and diplomacy; HRD man-management; and the nuclear power programmes of India. There are good opportunities to study this subject in Haryana, Punjab & Chandigarh as well as other important universities in the country and abroad. The multi-disciplinary approach of the course ensures that it is helpful not only in making a career but also in preparing for competitive examinations. It is also being chosen as an optional subject in the state services. The course offers a wide spectrum to students. They are first taught the basics of war, followed by history of India, evolution of military strategy and the evolution of tactics. Recent conflicts are analysed in this context and case-area studies also taught. Most of students in Punjabi University chose to go in for case studies of South-East Asia in order to have a better understanding of the problems affecting the country and its neighbours.

Career opportunities in Army: Students have a scope of being recruited in the Army Education Corps. The Education Corps recruits teachers to teach defence studies in the Army. Besides, having studied defence studies carries weightage in case one wants to go in for teaching any other subject in the Army. This, observers say, is because of the multi-disciplinary nature of the course. Many students enter the armed services after completing a course in Defence and Strategic Studies. They start out in the Officer Class and then move up the rank. There are opportunities in the Coast Guard, CRPF and CISF too. Candidates who have completed graduation in the subject of Defence Studies are directly recruited as Commissioned Officers in Army/Navy/Air Force, Education Corps and as Ground Duty Officers but they have to pass the physical criteria required.

Defence journalism: A course in defence studies and strategy is godsend for a budding journalist to understand the Army, warfare as well as national security problems. The course, besides providing knowledge about the Army hierarchy, also highlights the military functioning. It also has a paper on terrorism and insurgency as also national security. In this, the basic concepts and contours of both are discussed in detail. Besides, papers on information warfare and cyber terrorism can also be of interest to journalists. If you like writing and communicating, you could become a journalist. “Today, everyone is a specialist. You can become a sports journalist or someone who writes on politics. Having done this course, you can specialise in defence. Some students have done it successfully to become as Defence Journalists. There are multiple avenues. The question is, are you willing to explore them.

Research: There are a number of research institutes as well as universities ready to enroll postgraduates for research on defence-related subjects. The premier among these is the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, besides many universities running postgraduate courses in the region.

New avenues: The concept of security has changed now and “The military protects the country. But who protects the corporates, malls and big hotels?” This is where a degree in Defence and Strategic Studies, where you get trained in civil defence, comes in handy. But there is a certain mindset at work, “Strangely, security is not considered a proper occupation for an educated person. But, if you realise that this mindset is not correct, then there are a wide range of opportunities available.” In the corporate sector, many opportunities are opening up nowadays. With security forming a huge concern for all, trained professionals are very much in demand. The remuneration is also good.

If you are academically inclined and being in a high-brow think-tank interests you, this course will help you get there. There are many scholarships for research positions in foreign Think Tanks, Research institutions and universities as Research Associates/Research Fellow/ Research Officer/Intern, at places such as:

After the course, students can join Indian think-tanks of International Reputation, Research organizations. One can also join …

  • Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (New Delhi), as Research Associates/Research Fellow/ Research Officer.
  • Centre for Policy Research,
  • Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi),
  • Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (New Delhi),
  • Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (Shimla),
  • United Service Institution of India (New Delhi),
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi),
  • The Institute for Conflict Management (NewDelhi),
  • Delhi Policy Group,
  • Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi),
  • Institute of Chinese Studies (Delhi).

Candidates who have completed Master of Arts in Defence and Strategic Studies can write articles for newspapers/magazines/Blogs on national security related aspects which bring awareness to the government and public about such issues.

The Jobs and Employment Opportunities

Defence analysis, Defence research, Tactical Services, advice and tactical strategic planning National security planning and implementation, Civil Defence Armed Forces, National security organizations, Defence Journalism, Academic Research, Teaching in Universities and Colleges.

Writing and Publishing Books With Government and UGC sponsored grants, Articles and Blogs, Subject is in the list for Public Services Commission examinations of some states. UGC recognizes the subject for Junior Research Fellowship in NET examination.

Where to Study for MA PhD and Diplomas in our region:

(Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu)

  • Punjab University, Sector 14, Chandigarh(U.T.) 160014. Postgraduate, M. Phil and Doctoral programs and Diplomas in Disaster Management.
  • Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab 147002. Postgraduate, M. Phil and Doctoral programs
  • Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak. Haryana, Postgraduate, M. Phil and Doctoral programs
  • Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, Graduate, postgraduate, Doctoral and Diplomas in Military Studies& Defence Management.
  • Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.Haryana, Department of Political Science, Arts Faculty Building, kuk. Postgraduate programme.
  • Central University of Jammu, 8/8, Trikuta Nagar, Jammu-180012. Postgraduate programme.

Asif Ahmed, Assistant Professor. Defence & Strategic Studies. Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra. (Haryana) India . E Mail [email protected]

Asif Ahmed

Asif Ahmed is Assistant Professor at the University of Kurukshetra, teaching defense and strategic studies. He holds an MA in Defence & Strategic Studies (Punjabi University) with couple of other post graduate degrees in Mass Communications and Journalism. Professor Asif Ahmed has published one book on national security of India and authored articles in English, Punjabi, and Hindi languages in various newspapers, magazines journals, and has also edited chapters in books at the national and international levels. For some time he also participated in Live Radio Talks and Phone in counseling programs at the AIR Patiala station in India. Professor Ahmed's areas of interests are National Security of India, Distance Education, Human Rights Education, and Environment Education. He may be reached at [email protected]. and blogs at

3 thoughts on “Defence Studies As A Career And Academic Discipline In India

  • October 25, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Hi sir, thank you for an insightful article.
    I am currently pursuing in Computer Science Engineering. I want a post graduate degree in defense and international relations. Could you please share some information about the scope after post-graduation in the same subject? Also, could you refer some good institutes across the country for the same.
    Thank you.

  • May 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    What about BA Defence????

  • September 2, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Sir you not mention Where and when start defence studies as course


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