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Global Perspectives in Intelligence


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘Intelligence and National Security’, can take this course.


Spying is not limited to Western states. Most states, large or small, have a substantial tradition of espionage and internal security organisations, engaging in all manner of surveillance activities. Yet, Intelligence Studies remains dominated by Anglo-American perspectives. Both the empirical focus of scholarly inquiry and the conceptual framing of intelligence are rooted in the concepts, models, and experiences of the United States and its English-speaking allies.

In an increasingly globalised and multipolar world, it is important to overcome the Anglocentric view of intelligence and examine the security apparatuses of countries in the Global South. In the twenty-first century, the Global War on Terror and the proliferation of transnational organised crime not only resulted in the broad doubling of intelligence expenditure in Western states, but also bolstered the growth of national and multilateral intelligence in the Global South along with intelligence cooperation on a global scale.

In this course, students will be introduced to new, and sometimes altogether different intelligence contexts in Africa, Asia and Latin America, challenging our existing definitions and typologies. What are the principal differences between intelligence in the West and Global South? How do global and regional powers in the Global South think intelligence? How do these different ideas of intelligence impact the nature and texture of the intelligence services?

Students will examine global perspectives in intelligence through data collection on the historical origins of intelligence agencies and their evolution across countries with reference to internal and regional security dynamics. Students will reflect on the relative merits and limits of the data collection and deploy their research findings to generate analysis on the nature of intelligence in the observed countries.

The course will engage with scholarly literature, policy material, journalistic reports, and relevant online material from the observed countries. Students will gain transferrable employment skills through the practical experience of deploying techniques from open-source intelligence (OSINT) for academic research, and communicating research findings in a written format.

By the end of the course, students are expected to master the conceptual issues of intelligence in a global perspective and confidently analyse the nature of intelligence and the activities of security agencies through data collection of at least one country outside of the ‘Five Eyes’ and European contexts.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students are able to:

Research Skills

  1. Conduct qualitative data collection on global intelligence and consider factors that may affect the choice of data collection.
  2. Analyse data by identifying empirical patterns and different conceptions of intelligence and intelligence practices.

Academic Skills

  1. Advanced knowledge of the multi-disciplinary field of global intelligence studies;
  2. Define and analyse intelligence from the perspective of at least one of the following regions: Asia, Africa and/or Latin America.

Professional Skills

  1. Communicate research findings to an academic audience using appropriate formats.
  2. Critical self-evaluation following independent study, in-class activities and assessments.


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

Mode of instruction

The course will be taught through a combination of interactive lectures and workgroups. In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research in global intelligence, relevant concepts and methodology. In the workgroup sessions, students will take part in peer activities, conduct data collection, and develop a small research project that is tied to the contents of the final assignment. The workgroups will consist of in-class research activities, peer review and exercises that will help students prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is mandatory Students are only allowed to miss more than one lecture if there are demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on whether to grant exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the Data Collection assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection notes as preparation for the final reflection paper.
Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Total study load: 280 hours
Contact time: 42 hours
Non-contact time: 238 hours

Assessment method

Assessment for this course is based on three assignments:

Assignment 1: Peer review of data collection

  • Formative exercise, i.e.: not assessed

  • Resit not possible

Assignment 2: Midterm paper

  • 40% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5,5 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Assignment 3: Final paper

  • 60% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5,5 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

The calculated overall course grade must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course. If the calculated overall course grade is lower than 5.50, students are also permitted to resit the 60% final paper.

In the case of written assessment methods, the examiner can always initiate a follow-up conversation with the student to establish whether the learning objectives have been met.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained during the year 2022-2023 remain valid in the year 2023-2024.

Reading list

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


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams).
Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.
Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 12 July 13.00h

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.


Dr. Zakia Shiraz

dr. Tom Maguire