Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Past and Present of US Intelligence
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Assess critically and discuss how the US intelligence community has developed

Assess critically and discuss what functions it currently performs on behalf of the US Government

Assess critically and discuss how important intelligence has been to American war-making, defence planning and foreign policy

Evaluate methodological and historiographical problems in the study of intelligence.

Students will also improve their skills of research, analysis and expression during the course, as well as those of time and learning resource management.

Brief description

The module examines the history and current activities of the US intelligence community, looking above all to see how it has promoted the political, military and other interests of the USA.


The aims of the module are to provide students with an understanding of how the US intelligence community serves the US Government and how it has developed since the latter part of the nineteenth century. The module will demonstrate to students how US Intelligence has assisted American war-making and defence planning, and how it has enabled the United States to influence political developments worldwide.


The module examines the historical development and current activities of the US intelligence community. Within that framework, it examines: how intelligence has assisted the USA's armed forces in war; how it has assisted American defence planning; how it has assisted American foreign policy; the role that covert operations have played in American foreign policy; what role intelligence and covert operatons have played in domestic politics; and how the intelligence community is held accountable to the USA's political system.


1. US Intelligence from the First World War to Pearl Harbour (1918-41)
2. US Intelligence in the Second World War (1941-45)
3. Truman and the Cold War (1945-1953)
4. Eisenhower and the Cold War (1953-61)
5. Intelligence in the Sixties: Cuba and Vietnam
6. Intelligence from Detente to the Cold War's End
7. The Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover (1924-72): counter-subversion
8. The FBI: counter-espionage and counter-terrorism
9. The 'Year of Intelligence' and the Accountability of US Intelligence
10. Technical Collection Systems and Human Sources
11. Covert Action during the Cold War
12. US intelligence today 1: 9/11 and counter-terrorism
13. US intelligence today 2: counter-proliferation, Iraq and other challenges


1. Intelligence in the Second World War
2. Covert action
3. Intelligence during the Cold War
4. Counter-intelligence and counter-subversion; Accountability
5. Intelligence on WMD and terrorism

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Adaptability and resilience Ability to deal with changing circumstances and environments. Adapting to working with other people with different preferences and priorities. Adapting to communicating to different audiences. Includes recognition that abilities grow over time; learning through mistakes; accepting feedback positively; constructive criticism.
Co-ordinating with others Collaborative working as a group, with a shared outcome and assessed as a whole, negotiating, influencing. Cooperative, as a group, with a shared outcome but assessed individually. Develop leadership via opportunities to: • motivate and direct others • take responsibility for the direction and actions of a team • use initiative, take responsibility and ownership of problems.
Creative Problem Solving Opportunities that challenge, make the student think for themselves and/or involve finding different ways of working creatively. Involves decision making, enterprising ways of thinking, alternative approaches, innovation, initiative.
Critical and analytical thinking Ability to gather required data quickly and comprehensively analyse and evaluate situations and information to inform decisions/thinking. Includes information literacy, ability to plan research, collate appropriate data, consider alternative perspectives and viewpoints, reach conclusions, be logical, quantitative reasoning and analysis, recognising bias and misinformation.
Digital capability Broad based concept covering media and information literacy, digital research and problem-solving, creativity with digital tools as well as routine management of communication and social media tools. Includes willingness to try new technologies, adapt to digital methods of working, understanding of digital footprint and its impact.
Professional communication Places written, oral, visual, numerical and digital communication within the workplace context. Includes the ability to empathise by placing self in the shoes of others, to understand their feelings, and to help solve their problems, to recognise appropriate methods of communication related to different audiences, to use language and communications methods appropriately, to utilise quantitative data in appropriate ways to enhance understanding, to consider the content of communication and tone.
Real world sense Learning based on investigating real world issues (PBL/CBL) Contributions from alumni, practitioners & entrepreneurs. Experiential – practice based learning that is work or community based Developing skills in: initiative, independence, team working, coping with pressure, communicating effectively, managing time, taking decisions, being responsible, recognising bias and misinformation, adapting, planning, coordinating and organising, recognising the transferability of skills.
Reflection Through discussion and tasks, opportunities to understand own experiences, qualities and aspirations. Student led learning. Provide opportunities to identify and address strengths and weaknesses. Related to AberGrad Skills Checklists and Planning Grids, MEQ, recognising skills development and personal progress, career planning, assessing interests and values, feedback and assessment.


This module is at CQFW Level 6