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Defence and Strategic Studies Course


The Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC) is a year long post-graduate level educational program, with a strong practitioner focus, that provides senior military and civilian officials with the knowledge, awareness and skills to operate at the highest levels of leadership, command, policy formulation and management. CDSS Graduates constitute a cohort of senior leaders in Australia and around the world who share common understanding of the more complex aspects of their work - whether as military officers or civilian national security professionals.

Information on the course includes:


Course Information

The course is the result of many years of development, refinement and fine tuning. As Australia's most advanced program of professional military education, it provides course members the opportunity to spend a year learning, thinking and writing about the challenges that they will face as they proceed to command and management roles at the most senior levels of their profession. Participation in this program offers course members the opportunity to shift their focus from the tactical and operational to the strategic level.

Course members use the consideration of the curriculum to develop their individual conceptual and analytical thinking, leadership and interpersonal skills. However, just as important is the opportunity to develop an empathetic understanding of the point-of-view of the other course members. The alumni of this course will be working together for the rest of their careers. One of the great benefits of attending CDSS is being able to learn from the rich and varied perspectives of course members drawn from Australia and across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, North America, the United Kingdom and Europe.

The CDSS educational approach is an adult-learning model. This means that we do not simply train course members. The CDSS provides an advanced learning environment. Course members are responsible for using the opportunities that the DSSC provides to develop themselves. Course members are expected to participate in all aspects of the program. However, the formal program is only the beginning of the learning that takes place at the College. All members of the CDSS, both staff and students, are expected to contribute their experience and their learning to enrich the group.

The DSSC is offered once each year, and runs from January to December. Each course is attended by up to 50 military and civilian officers from Defence, other Government agencies, and overseas Defence forces. Inter-agency attendees are also welcome for specific blocks of study . The course is conducted at the post-graduate level and most of the participants are at the levels of Military 06-07 (Colonel-Brigadier equivalent) or Australian Public Service Executive Level 2.


Chatham House Rule

The explanation and wording of the Chatham House Rule is as follows:

Meetings of the Institute may be held 'on the record' or under the Chatham House Rule. In the latter case, it may be agreed with the speaker(s) that it would be conducive to free discussion that a given meeting, or part thereof, should be strictly private and thus held under the Chatham House Rule.

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".

Frequently asked questions:

Q. When was the Rule devised?
A. In 1927, then refined in 1992.


Q. Should one refer to the Chatham House Rule or the Chatham House Rules?
A. There is only one Rule.

Q. What are the benefits of using the Rule?
A. It allows people to speak as individuals, and to express views that may not be those of their organisations, and therefore it encourages free discussion. People usually feel more relaxed if they don't have to worry about their reputation or the implications if they are publicly quoted.

Q. How is the Rule enforced?
A. Chatham House can take disciplinary action against one of its members who breaks the Rule. Not all organisations that use the Rule have sanctions. The Rule then depends for its success on being seen as morally binding.

Q. Is the Rule used for all meetings at Chatham House?
A. Not often for the larger meetings (so called General Meetings); more frequently for smaller ones, for example where work in progress is discussed or when subject matter is politically sensitive.

Q. Who uses the Rule these days?
A. It is widely used in the English-speaking world - by local government and commercial organisations as well as research organisations.

Course Guides & Materials

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