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Introduction to Secret Affairs


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Intelligence Studies. This is the only course within the minor that is also open to students who do not follow the entire minor, for example Exchange Students and Study Abroad Students. Registration in Usis is mandatory. There are 250 places open for registration, on a first come first serve basis, where minor students are given priority.


This course in an introduction to intelligence studies. Students will learn about what intelligence is, how it is collected and how it feeds back into policy. We will examine different national systems of intelligence, different intelligence collection methods (such as HUMINT or OSINT), international cooperation in intelligence and covert influence.

Course objectives

  1. The student is able to explain the intelligence cycle
  2. The student is able to describe the potential role and influence of intelligence in international politics and is able to explain how states can use intelligence
  3. The student is able to mention the most important disciplines of intelligence gathering, explain when to use what different discipline, and apply this knowledge to specific situations
  4. The student understands the notions of politicization, international cooperation, covert influence, and their impact on intelligence
  5. The student is able to both comparatively understand the work of intelligence and security services in different national systems and to apply their learning to a particular case study in a group environment.


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

Mode of instruction

7 lectures of 3 hours by instructors and guest lecturers.

Assessment method

Group assignment

  • 30% of total grade

  • Resit not possible, grade must be compensated

Final exam

  • 70% of total grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

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.

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.

Reading list

TBA on Brightspace with course syllabus.


Registration via MyStudymap or uSis is possible from TBA after registration for the entire minor.

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. Furthermore, announcements and modifications will be communicated via Brightspace. Students have the responsibility to stay informed and are thus advised to regularly check Brightspace for updates.

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

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis.



All sessions will be in English. Exams and assignments need to be written in English.