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World of Intelligence


Admission requirements

  • Students must be enrolled in the CSM Master program

  • At least 8 students must enrol for the course to take place

  • A maximum of 30 students can participate, on a first come, first serve basis


To most people the world of intelligence and security services looks like a James Bond movie. As is the case with most movies, real life is quite different. But what these services actually do on a day-to-day basis, how they operate, what their tasks are, and on what legal basis they operate, is often unknown. Not only because the knowledge and modus operandi of secret services are preferably shrouded by mystery – since revealing that kind of information might help adversaries – but also because the scientific discipline of intelligence studies is relatively young.
It is important, however, to strengthen our knowledge about the world of intelligence services, because they have played an important role in security affairs worldwide since the beginning of the twentieth century. Therefore, in this course we will focus on the functioning of intelligence and security services worldwide and the study of these organizations. Departing from perceptions of these bulwarks of secrecy, we will focus on the way these services are institutionalized and embedded. We will focus on the way secret services developed during the Cold War, and in the post-Cold War period, in order to understand their function today.
On the basis of secondary and primary materials we will explore the function, position, and operating of intelligence and security service within the context of the democratic state. In addition to their qualities, intelligence and security services come with many dilemmas and problems. As for example the case of Iraq in 2003 exemplifies, politicians tend to ‘cherry pick’ intelligence – a specific form of the broader phenomenon of the politicization of intelligence. Other dilemmas, such as the lack of cooperation and the problem of ‘connecting the dots’ will be discussed as well, as the problems of intelligence liaison and oversight.

Course objectives

  1. The students will obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of the multidisciplinary field of the intelligence studies and its relation to the social sciences, history, political sciences, and public administration. This knowledge will help students to understand what researchers in this field study and how they do it.
  2. The students will be able to address the main questions (what is intelligence? What do intelligence and security services do? How are they embedded in the democratic state in terms of oversight and control? Who benefits from intelligence, how do policy makers and politicians perceive intelligence officials and analysis?) and define, analyse, and apply the main theories (intelligence cycle and matrix, intelligence bureaucracies, oversight and control), concepts (intelligence definitions, modus operandi, consumers, producers, products, processes), and insights in the field of the intelligence studies.
  3. The students will be able to define and analyze the main activities of intelligence and security services, the history of intelligence and security organizations in the West, and the relation between intelligence communities on the one hand and policy makers and politicians on the other.
  4. The students will be able to critically reflect (in terms of historical developments, modus operandi, oversight, control, and added value to policy makers and politicians) on the position of intelligence communities in their broader societal, bureaucratic, and political environments.
  5. The students will be able to build, present, and defend well-grounded and concise arguments in a research paper on one of the most difficult issues of the intelligence-policy nexus: the process of politicization.
  6. The students will develop a critical mind-set and awareness to reflect on intelligence related issues such as their modus operandi, their political sensitivity and the issue of oversight, not only in an academic setting but in a broader public debate as well.


On the CSM front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of 7 seminars. Attendance for this course is compulsory.

Course Load

total study load 5 EC x 28 hrs. = 140 hrs., of which: – contact hours: 3 hrs. per week x 7 weeks = 21 hrs. – self-study hours: 119 hrs.

Assessment method

Midterm quizzes (10% each, 30% of total grade)
The midterm assignment consists of three quizzes in week 2, 4 and 6 that will test students' knowledge of the assigned literature. The quiz in week 2 will focus on the literature assigned for week 1-2, the quiz in week 4 will focus on the literature assigned for week 3-4 and finally, the quiz in week 6 will focus on the assigned literature for week 5-6.

Final paper (70%)
The final assignment consists of a paper of 4000-4500 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) on the subject of the strained relationship between policymakers and politicians on the one hand and intelligence and security services on the other. Using the article by Richard K. Betts on politicization ( as a baseline, students will select a topic/case study in which this strained relationship between intelligence services and the rest of government plays a role. Based on public intelligence, parliamentary or other government reporting, press, and literature (books, articles) students should address how this intelligence-polity relation manifests itself, which values, interests, and views on the problems both 'parties' held, how they acted, and what the outcome was. In the end, the paper should provide us with more insight in the role and function of intelligence in the policy and decision making process. Further details will be provided during the lecture.

NB: Failed partial grades weighing less than 30% should be compensated by a passed partial grade weighing more than 30%. The calculated grade must be at least 5,50 in order to pass the course.

Re-take: paper.

Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the 'timetable exams'.


Yes, the course page will be made available two weeks before the course starts

Reading list

To be announced


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. 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. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


Liesbeth van der Heide / +31 70 800 9517
nstitute of Security and Global Affairs (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs)
Wijnhaven, Turfmarkt 99, 2511 DP Den Haag, room 4.02