What will I learn?


The Strategic and Defence Studies (MSDS) is an advanced academic study that combines the theoretical and practical expertise of leading academics and policy-makers to deliver Malaysia's foremost strategic studies program. It is suitable if you plan to progress to a career with an international focus. The programmed is designed to develop the analytical frameworks you need to tackle the regional and global strategic and security challenges of your career, and graduate a leader in your field.

The MSDS programme at the Department of International and Strategic Studies first started in November 1999 with an impressive intake of more than 40 students. Since then, the programme has continued to attract both local and international students who wish to further their studies in the field of International Relations, Defence and Strategic Studies. Applicants for the programme come from various academic disciplines and professional backgrounds including politics, law, economics, humanities, military and science. The Department’s empirical focus revolves around Malaysia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Middle East, Africa and the Great Powers. Currently emphasis is also placed on the study of conflict resolution, human security, human rights, climate change, environmental politics, regionalism, international development and managing peace in post-conflict areas.

At the end of programme, student should be able to achieve the following Programme Learning Outcome (PO):

  • Knowledge
  • Practical skills
  • Social responsibility and skills
  • Values, attitudes and professionalism
  • Problem solving and scientific skills
  • Entrepreneurship and management skills

Career Opportunity

Since 1998, we have produced the first batch of graduates who specialised their degree programme (either at the undergraduate and postgraduate level) in International and Strategic Studies. The ability of our students to master various fundamental and soft skills with global outlooks, lateral thinking and international concerns (see the Programme Outcome) in resolving various tasks and issues has allowed them to secure a better job prospect within 6 months after graduation. The diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the discipline, namely the International and Strategic Studies have allowed students to secure a working attachment in various organisations and corporations.

Some opted for a career path in diplomatic services and foreign affairs, attached as the civil servants in various governmental ministries (both at the federal and state governmental levels), defence and intelligence sectors, various local, regional and international branches or agencies under the United Nations system, banking and financial sectors, and private firms, especially in human resource division, marketing strategists and insurance companies.

Others opted for more challenging yet global working environments, including working with multinational corporations (MNCs), international and local non-governmental agencies, civil societies, and charity works, professional and freelance writers, volunteer services, further studies and teaching options in various local and international universities, and as well as in pursuing study or professional development enhancement upon completion of their study in UM.

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Study options

Full Time (3 semesters)

Tuition fees
RM28,700.00 (US$ 6,902) per year

*Price shown is for indicative purposes, please check with institution

Start date

Expected September 2022


Universiti Malaya

Jalan Universiti,


Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur,

50603, Malaysia

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Preference will be given to applicants having a Bachelor’s Degree with CGPA 3.0 and above or its equivalent. A band 5.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (Academic); or A score of 550 paper based total, a score of 213 for computer-based total or a score of 80 for internet-based total for Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

For international students

Students applying for the MSDS must meet the University’s admission requirements, and should have relevant Bachelor’s Degree (with Honours, normally second upper class) or its equivalent in the related field.

A strong preference will be given to applicants having a Bachelor’s Degree with CGPA 3.0 and above or its equivalent. The minimum CGPA 3.0 and above is required for the application of the MSDS programme.

Students must have to achieve either ONE of the following categories of the English Language test:

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with total score of either 550 and above for the Paper based Test (PBT), OR 213 and above for Computer-based Test (CBT), OR 79-80 and above for Internet-based Test (IBT), OR

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with total score of Band 6 and no lower than the said band for every each of the section of the test, OR

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), University of Cambridge with a credit pass in either Ordinary (GCSE O) Level or Advance (GCSE A) Level.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


About Universiti Malaya

UM is Malaysia’s oldest and best university and among the top 60 and top 1% of universities in the world.

  • Ranked 59th in the 2021 QS World University Rankings
  • Over 200 world-class programmes to choose from
  • UM’s alumni include former Malaysian Prime Ministers
  • 34 courses ranked in QS World’s Top 200 Subject Rankings