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Intelligence and Policymaking


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • This course only offers a place to a maximum of 40 students.


What role does intelligence play in policymaking? How do policymakers use intelligence when making policy, and is it the responsibility of the intelligence community to be heard? Also, in our current ‘information age’ where everyone can get access to raw data, do decision-makers still need intelligence?

In this course you will learn to critically examine the role and challenges of intelligence in decision-making, its strengths and weaknesses. We divide this subject up in several stages. You will learn about the process of policymaking, particularly in the field of security, and how this process is not just complex but also political. We will consider how decision-makers actually make policy and what information/biases they use as inputs for this process. Then, we discuss how the intelligence community relates to this: what is the role of the intelligence community? What do they need from decision-makers? Finally, in this course you will study the particular challenges in this relationship, based on real-world examples from the past years. We will zoom in on the challenges arising from the information age but also look at the politicisation of intelligence.

Course objectives

After this course, students:

  • Understand the core concepts and debates on the relationship between intelligence and policymakers as well as the way policy decisions in security issues are made

  • Take a position in these debates

  • Have insight in the key challenges in the relationship between the intelligence and policymakers from both the perspective of the policymaker and the intelligence analyst

  • Apply these insights to real-world case studies

  • Have gained a better understanding of how to produce and communicate intelligence and other forms of knowledge to decision-makers

  • Are able to present written and oral briefings and analyses individually and as a group


On the right side of programme front page of the e-Prospectus you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of 7 sessions dedicated to interactive lectures, workgroups and general debates.

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:
a) contact: 21 hours
b) self-study: 119 hrs

Assessment method

The course is assessed based on a group exercise on an intelligence briefing (30%) and an individual paper (70%).

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course. The group assignment can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), re-sit is not possible. The individual paper cannot be compensated. If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade.

Students are only permitted to re-sit the 70% assignment if they have a calculated overall grade lower than 5.50.

Reading list

A selection of book and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrolment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.
The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.


Dr. Nikki Ikani