Special Operations - 8632

Program Summary

Faculty: UNSW Canberra at ADFA

Contact: UNSW Canberra, Student Administrative Services

Campus: UNSW Canberra at ADFA

Career: Postgraduate

Typical Duration: 1 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 48


Master of Special Operations

View program information for previous years

Program Description

Contemporary armed conflicts have seen the employment of special operations forces on an unprecedented scale, yet special operations remains an understudied and often misunderstood instrument of military policy. The Master of Special Operations uniquely addresses this gap by offering students a combination of special operations focused core courses alongside a selection of electives addressing broader issues in strategy and security, providing the student both a focused view of the phenomenon of special operations and a broad understanding of their context. The Master of Special Operations is ideal for special operations and other military personnel seeking to broaden their understanding of special operations beyond the tactical and operational skills and capabilities involved. The program also provides an excellent framework of reference for other government employees and contractors who require a good understanding of Special Operations. Postgraduate scholars seeking to develop a research competence in this field will also find in the Master of Special Operations a valuable foundation.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

At the end of the program, students should have acquired all of the following:
  • Advanced disciplinary knowledge: Graduates will have acquired an advanced knowledge of special operations and both the strategic and regional context of the employment of this instrument of military force in the international arena.
  • Research-based learning: Graduates will have developed an understanding of how new knowledge is produced and deeper knowledge acquired in the study of special operations.
  • Cognitive skills and critical thinking: Graduates will have developed advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills applicable to a range of strategy practices and security environments.
  • Communication and adaptive skills: Graduates will be able to communicate complex ideas to a range of audiences, undertake both independent and collaborative enquiry, apply technical skills and be adaptive learners and practitioners.
  • Global outlook: Graduates will gain an awareness of local and global dimensions of the management of armed conflict.

Program Structure

Students undertaking the Master of Special Operations are required to take 8 courses (48 UOC) comprising 24 UOC of core courses, with the remaining courses selected in any combination from the elective courses listed below.

The core courses will normally be offered annually or at least every two years; the elective courses will be offered on an opportunity basis.

Students must complete the following 4 core courses (24 UOC):

Elective Courses
Students must complete a minimum of 4 elective courses (24 UOC) from the following list:

Students may, with the approval of the Postgraduate Coordinator, take up to two courses (12 UOC) from other programs offered in related coursework programs.

Research Project
The option of undertaking a research project is available to Masters students who attain a high credit average or better in courses worth 24 UOC and is subject to the approval of the Head of School. The research project is recommended for those with a strong interest in pursuing original research in a particular area or intending to undertake a higher level research qualification. This project may be undertaken in a single session or as a full year course.

ZHSS8400 - Research Project - International and Political Study (Single Session) (12 UOC)
ZHSS8401 - Research Project - International and Political Study (Full Year) (6 UOC x 2 semesters)

Additional Study and Elective Courses
Additional special study and elective courses may be offered on an opportunity basis.

Students may, with the approval of the Postgraduate Coordinator, take up to two courses (12 UOC) from other courses offered in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Business or related coursework programs.

Academic Rules

1. Entry Requirements

1.1 Completion of a Bachelor's degree with Honours with a major in a cognate discipline; or

1.2 Completion of a Graduate Diploma in a cognate discipline; or

1.3 Completion of a 3 or 4-year Bachelor degree in a cognate discipline, which includes a major in the cognate discipline; and have completed at least 3-years full-time professional experience in a cognate discipline; or

1.4 Completion of a Bachelor degree in a NON-cognate discipline and have completed at least 4-years full-time professional experience in a cognate discipline; or
Evidence of other academic qualifications and/or professional experience submitted to the Program Authority may be considered based on assessment of evidence of achievement of equivalent learning and in accordance with UNSW Recognition of Prior Learning Procedure.

Cognate Disciplines:

International and Political Studies, Strategic Studies, Security Studies, History, Anthropology and related disciplines

See UNSW Canberra pathway options for admission to the MSpecOps program. (Link to UNSW Canberra website)

2. Enrolment and Progression

2.1 An application to enrol as a candidate for the degree shall be made via myUNSW or prescribed form and lodged with Student Administrative Services by the advertised date.

2.2 A candidate for the degree must undertake courses and pass assessment as prescribed by UNSW.

2.3 The program of study shall total a minimum of 48 units of credit.

2.4 The Academic Standing of a candidate shall be reviewed at the end of each session. Movement between levels of academic standing is based on progress, measured by cumulative number of failures.


For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:  UNSW Fee Website.

Related Program(s)

2406 Arts
2225 Humanities & Social Sciences
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