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.

There are three colleges in Tamil Nadu that offer an undergraduate degree in Defence Studies — Guru Nanak College in Chennai, Voorhees College, Vellore, and Government College of Arts, Udhagamandalam.

Guru Nanak College currently has 120 students (40 in each year) pursuing the undergraduate degree, says S.V. Raghavan, head of the department of defence studies in the college. A variety of topics, including strategic study of India, fundamentals of war and peace and world military history, are studied.

The only department in south India that offers postgraduate courses in defence and strategic studies is in the University of Madras, says Gopalji Malviya, professor and head, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies. The Department awards M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D degrees. Contrary to popular belief, the Department has nothing to do with “olive green,” he says.

The course is research-oriented and does not involve physical combat training, he adds.

Recently the university granted recognition to the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Delhi, to conduct Ph.D programmes in Defence and Strategic Studies, says Dr. Malviya. The IDSA conducts studies and research on problems of national security and the impact of defence measures on the country and advises the government on matters related to policy formulation, he adds.

The university has an affiliation with Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, in Udhagamandalam, to offer M.Sc., M.Phil. and Ph.D in Defence Studies. An interesting course offered by DSSC is a postgraduate diploma in management and public relations for spouses of officials doing courses, which is monitored by the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies. The university also has an affiliation with National Defence College, Delhi, for M.Phil. in Defence and Strategic Studies.

Officers from the Armed Forces take study leave and pursue courses in the Department and the students benefit by interacting with them, says Dr. Malviya. “There is a reservoir of service officers for the students to learn from.” Apart from this, lecture-demonstrations are organised for students to learn from experts. An interdisciplinary field, the course requires knowledge about current national and international events, and subjects such as military history, defence economics, international law, conflict resolution and peace, and national security.

After the course, students can join international think-tanks, research organisations, or join the Armed Forces, provided they pass the physical criteria required. Civilian and corporate security is another field that requires qualified professionals, says Dr. Malviya. “The orientation for all these careers is provided during the course. Depending on the competency and interest of the students, they can take it forward,” he adds.