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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 300 places open for registration, on a first come first serve basis, where minor students are given priority.


During the past thirty years the so-called intelligence revolution that took place during the Second World War and the Cold War found its way into academic courses and literature. In many respects intelligence can no longer be called ‘the missing dimension’ of the history of international relations, even though many of its aspects and implications are still missing. This lecture series will put a spotlight on the ‘dark side’ of international relations and the hidden background issues that go on behind the sealed scenes of international relations.

This course will pay attention to the history of intelligence services, the methods of intelligence gathering, intelligence in regard to terrorism and asymmetric warfare. Furthermore, students will be challenged to use their own ‘spy-capacities’ and put themselves in the adversary’s position.

Course objectives

  1. The student is able to explain the different manners of organisation of the services in different countries;
  2. The student is able to describe the possible role and influence of intelligence in international politics and is able to illustrate how states can use intelligence as an instrument of power;
  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 is able to give examples of events of historical important in the field of intelligence;
  5. The student is able to give a broad perspective of the work of intelligence and security services and to elaborate on the different points of view and movements within the field.


Timetable 2020 to be announced.

All schedules are subject to change.

Mode of instruction

7 lectures of 3 hours by instructors and guest lecturers.
Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed.

Course load

Component % Hours
Attendance mandatory 21
Mid term exam 40% 2
Final exam 60% 3
Reading and self-study* 114
Total 100% 140

*On the basis of reading approximately eight pages per hour.

Assessment method

Mid term exam (40%)
Final exam (60%)

Please be aware that the resit of the exam will take place in January

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


Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course, after registration for the entire minor.
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.