Intelligence and International Affairs

Course Description

The objective of this seminar is to introduce students to the state of research and thinking in the field of intelligence studies. It will cover the theories, ideas, and concepts through which the world of intelligence is understood by those who study it, and in doing so intellectually challenge students into thinking about intelligence in a wider context than they usually would. On completing this seminar, students will have broadened their intellectual horizons and developed their ability to reflect on the state of intelligence as an academic discipline. Success in this seminar is largely dependent on each student’s active and serious engagement with the reading materials. Prior knowledge of intelligence or national security issues is not at all required. 

Prerequisite: MA standing in the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs or permission of the School.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Communicate a critical and nuanced understanding of the role of intelligence in the conduct of statecraft and international affairs;
  • Identify and assess the major theoretical influences in the field of intelligence studies;
  • Critically analyze how intelligence organizations operate using both theoretical and empirical methods of inquiry; and
  • Apply learning through written, oral, research, analytical, presentation and other skills in individual and team environments.

Course Structure & Class Format

This is an academic course at the graduate level. The course is predominantly a seminar-type course. As the instructor for this course, I aim to:

  • Improve your knowledge base about intelligence and introduce you to the theories that seek to explain intelligence as a distinct field of international activity;
  • Help you think critically about a domain that influences statecraft and international relations, and likewise has an effect on individual and collective rights; and
  • Assist your general development as graduate students. 

A typical class will incorporate different learning strategies:

  • Classes will begin with a brief Weekly Update – an informal discussion of Intelligence-related global events that took place over the previous week. The Weekly Update will give students an opportunity to share news stories with the class and relate the content of the story to class materials. 
  • A lecture, and occasionally, a guest lecture. Short introductory lectures will provide a framework for understanding the issue under discussion.
  • Presentations by students, small-group exercises, and class discussion. Student-driven content will provide peer review and comment. 
  • Critical assessment and wrap-up. The final section of each week’s class involves a critical, class-wide discussion of the topic at hand, as it relates to global events and previous class material.