Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 22 Hours. (1 x 2 hour seminar per week)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  60%
Semester Assessment Project: 1 x 2,500 word project  40%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

- understand key terms and debates in intelligence studies
- understand the relationship between intelligence and counter-intelligence
- assess the impact of intelligence and counter-intelligence on the course of the two world wars
- evaluate the role of signals intelligence in both war and peace-time
- evaluate the methodological and historiographical problems inherent in the study of intelligence and international relations

Brief description

This module examines the nature of intelligence and the role of intelligence and intelligence organisations in world politics from 1900 to 1945.


The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the evolution of permanent intelligence organisations within the government machinery of most important states. The experience of the two world wars played a central role in this process as intelligence communities became increasingly professionalised. By the end of the Second World War all of the powers had developed extensive bureaucracies responsible for the collection, analysis and distribution of information from both 'open' and 'secret' sources. Intelligence has played a key role in shaping the perceptions of policy-makers in times of peace and war. The aim of the course is to consider the role of intelligence in policy-making by focusing on key events and issues in the international history of this period in which intelligence and counter-intelligence organisations played a vital role.


The module consists of one introductory seminar (on the nature of intelligence) followed by seminars on the following topics:

- The evolution of military intelligence to 1900
- Intelligence assessment and the coming of war in 1914
- Counter-intelligence and spy-mania
- Intelligence and the origins of the second world war: the democracies
- Intelligence and the origins of the second world war: the dictatorships
- Signals intelligence - 1900-1945
- Intelligence and Strategic Surprise during the second world war: Barbarossa
- Intelligence and deception in the era of the two world wars
- Intelligence and Alliance Diplomacy

Transferable skills

Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the module, students should practice and develop their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self-management. In seminars students enhance and develop their analytical skills and practice listening, explaining and debating skills. Through group role-play particular emphasis is placed on teamwork. Students develop critical awareness of the processes and practices of deceptive activity and the capacity to conduct and detect such behaviour. Essay writing encourages students to practice independent research, writing and IT skills.


This module is at CQFW Level 7