Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Intelligence, Security and International Politics 1900-45
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 11 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word project  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  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 Academic Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will:

  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of key terms and debates in intelligence studies
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of the role of intelligence in policy formation and state action in times of both peace and war
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of the concept of the `police state? and see how political police forces have been used to achieve the objectives of totalitarian and democratic regimes
  • be able to assess the impact of intelligence and counter-intelligence on the course of the two World Wars
  • evaluate the methodological and historiographical problems inherent in the study of intelligence, security and international relations

Brief description

This module examines the history of intelligence and security services in the first half of the twentieth century and the role they have played in politics and war-making.


The main aim of the module is to give students both a historical and a theoretical understanding of intelligence and security by examining what intelligence and security operations involved in the first half of the twentieth century, why states engaged in them, how they contributed to policy-making and war-making or failed to do so, and how they influenced both national and international politics. A further aim is to encourage students to think analytically and critically: the historical literature on intelligence is of very mixed quality and students must be able to examine critically the sources available to them.


The course begins with a discussion of the nature of intelligence and then moves on to examine the key aspects of the developing intelligence communities of the major states in the first half of the twentieth century: military and diplomatic intelligence; intelligence assessment; counter-intelligence and counter-subversion; the Nazi and Soviet police states; intelligence in the Second World War; signals intelligence; and
intelligence and deception and strategic surprise. The course is largely historical in nature, though consideration is given to theoretical issues as well. Key events and developments in the international history of the period are studied to show the central role played by intelligence in shaping the perceptions of both domestic and international threats among policy-makers. Much attention is given to the crucial role played by the two World Wars in causing permanent intelligence organizations to develop. Whether intelligence and security operations are conducted differently in totalitarian systems than in democracies is also an important subject of inquiry.

Transferable skills

Throughout the course, students will practise and develop their skills of research, analysis, time-management and oral and written presentation. In seminars they will develop their ability to listen, explain, present a point of view orally and debate; their essay and project assignments will enable them to develop their skills of independent research, analysis and writing (including data collection and retrieval, IT and time management).


This module is at CQFW Level 7