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Qualitative Analysis Techniques for Intelligence Studies


Admission requirements

This course is designed for the minor Intelligence Studies. It is not possible to follow single courses of this minor. You need to be enrolled in Usis for the minor to be accepted to this course. There are 180 places open for registration, on a first come first serve basis, where LDE students are given priority.

This course is also open for inbound exchange students if they wish to take the entire minor Intelligence Studies; it is not possible to take single courses from this minor. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the minor; priority will be given to direct exchange partners of FGGA. For more information about the application procedure for exchange students, please contact the FGGA International Office at


The course is aimed at acquiring analytic research methods and practical skills that prepare students for their application in the context of this minor programme. We will respond to the known methods and techniques taught at several faculties, and amplify them. Also, these methods and techniques are now being applied in the context of the intelligence practice.
The students that aim at a career in this field will get acquainted with methods and techniques that are common within the intelligence community.

A few aspects will get special attention during this course. First of all, methodological insights are placed in an interdisciplinary perspective. Moreover, attention will be paid to the characteristics of the applied sciences or applied research. Secondly, a case will be discussed on a step-by-step basis. The case will be exemplary for the content of intelligence questions, namely: key information is hard to obtain and ‘noise’ and speculation ought to be filtered out of the sources that are available.

The goals of the course are twofold: training of analytic skills and practising one’s specific role in research during a research project (for example playing devil’s advocate and Analysis by Competing Hypotheses).

This course is different from other methodological skills courses because it is especially developed for intelligence research, with special attention to the role of the absence of data, and the possibility of deception.

Course objectives

  1. The student is able to define the alpha chance and beta chance and the differences between these two chances and to reason why these chances are important to intelligence research;
  2. The student is able to compose a research question and able to answer this question;
  3. The student is able to find relevant sources and to assess these sources on the basis of content and reliability;
  4. The student is able to name and compare different analysis techniques used in intelligence research;
  5. The student is able to give his or her fellow-student constructive feedback.



Mode of instruction

7 lectures of 3 hours.
7 working group sessions of 3 hours

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed. Being absent more than once will lead to expulsion from the course.

Assessment method

OSINT individual assignment (10%)

  • 10% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated

OSINT group assignment (30%)

  • 30% of total grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Research assignment individual (30%)

  • 30% of total grade

  • Resit possible

  • Grade must be compensated

Research assignment group (20%)

  • 20% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated

Research assignment TL/DA (10%)

  • 10% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated

Students will be permitted to resit the 30% OSINT assignment if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The other grades need needs to be compensated.

Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Brightspace.

Late hand in penalty: 1 minus per day, and after three days we do not accept the assignment any longer.

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Transitional arrangements
Grades obtained for this course in previous academic years are no longer valid in academic year 2021-2022.

Reading list



Registration in uSis is possible from August 16th, after registration for the entire minor.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups of the minor have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts).
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.


Ms. W.J.M. Aerdts LL.M MA


This course can only be taken as part of the minor Intelligence Studies.
All sessions will be in English. Exams and assignments need to be written in English.
Please be aware that the resits will take place in January 2022.