Instructions at the Staff College is based upon syndicate or tutorial system. This system can be considered as an excellent way of allowing students to learn from each others experiences. The course is divided into six Army syndicates comprising of approximately 12 Officers in each syndicate and two syndicate each from the Navy and the Air Force with 10 students in each syndicate.
Syndicates change at the end of each term so that each student will have the opportunity to be a part of four different groups. A large part of a student's work is conducted within the syndicates. For the purpose of joint packages, joint syndicates are structured. A syndicate is kept under the guidance of a DS in the rank of Colonel/Lieutenant Colonel and equivalent.
These exercises are held indoor to enable the students to ascertain clearly the basic principles of employing troops and equipment on varying terrain and different phases of war.
Outdoor exercises are conducted to enable the students to find practical solutions to tactical problems without troops. Student Officers plan on the map, discuss in the syndicate room or outdoor and then see the feasibility of executing the plan on ground.
Several such exercises are conducted during the course where students study the tactical aspects of their plans during the outdoor part of the exercise and are exposed to ground realities.
The intellectual discipline of research demands analysis, logic, judgment, original thought, accuracy, clarity of expression and indeed integrity all attributes we seek to develop. Research forms a major part of the course and there are requirements throughout it, for both individual and group research. Students are expected to approach their research in a disciplined way in keeping with the factors demanded.
Students are required to submit nine well–composed written assignments on selected topics, solutions to numerous tactical problems and a final dissertation of 8000 words on a chosen topic.
A wide range of eminent guest speakers address the students during the course. Training teams from foreign countries also visit the College and exchange ideas during the course.
Student Officers visit the Survey Department, Western Naval Command, Ports Authority and Colombo Dockyard, SLAF Base Katunayake, High Courts, NARA, Met Department, Parliament and embark on an Overseas Study Tour to a SAARC or an ASEAN country.