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Secrets & Spies: Modern Espionage

Key information

Subject area:

Pre-University & Undergraduate Summer Programmes

Course type:


Credit level:



2 weeks

Available course dates:

From: 15 July 2024 To: 26 July 2024
Application deadline: 10 May 2024

Course overview

Summer School modules are designed to be intensive, intellectually-stimulating short courses. They are taught by King’s academics in academic disciplines where King's has expertise. Classes are very international with students from all around the globe learning together.

Each module is 150 study hours comprising intensive teaching, independent study and group work and is examined to university standards. Comparable to an in-semester 15-credit King’s undergraduate module and therefore typically awarded 3-4 US credits or 7.5 ECTS, many summer students ask their home institution to award them external credit for their King's summer module to use towards their degree programme when they return home.


One session (2 weeks): £2,400 

Two sessions (4 weeks): £4,800 £4,395*

*Fee valid for applications for two sessions received by 10 May 2024. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts or promotions. Subject to availability at the time of application.

What does this course cover?

From Bond to Bourne, and Kim to Smiley the spy has been a consistent feature of popular culture for over a hundred years. But what is the relation between fact and fiction? Who are the spooks; what do they do; and how do they do it? At a time when terrorism and war have brought the activities of intelligence agencies to the forefront of national debate this module will examine these questions and study the role of spies and intelligence in culture and politics over the past century.

Using a range of literary and historical texts – as well as some documents from the national archives considered ‘top secret’ at the time of their writing – students will examine how spying influenced many of the key political events, both at home and abroad, of the 20th and early 21st Centuries – from the Second World War, to the Cold War and the threat of nuclear destruction, to the current focus on terrorism.

They will examine the difference between intelligence in democracies and dictatorships, the impact of technology on spying, the relationship between spies, politicians and the media, and ask fundamental questions about what is right or wrong in the spying game. 

What will I achieve?

  • Students will develop an understanding of what ‘spying’ and ‘intelligence’ entails, from the intelligence cycle and the relationship with politicians, to the different methods of gathering intelligence.
  • Students will develop an understanding between how democracies and dictatorships have traditionally used their spies.
  • Students will acquire a sense of the challenges faced by intelligence and government, both in terms of collecting intelligence for advantage in the international sphere and security in the domestic, and in terms of maintaining a balance between security and liberty.
  • Students will examine the relationship between fact and fiction in intelligence.
  • Students will grapple with questions of morality and proportionality in current intelligence operations through discussion of issues such as surveillance, rendition, torture, and assassinations.

Who is this for?

The King's College London Undergraduate Summer School is open to students who are currently, or have been, enrolled in an undergraduate degree programme. We also welcome applications from professionals who have substantial relevant experience in their chosen subject area.

You should ensure that you are eligible to apply before you submit your application by checking our academic and English language entry criteria.

How will I be assessed?

Essay (85%), Presentation (15%)


What is the teaching schedule?

Undergraduate Summer School modules comprise 150 study hours over three weeks, which includes a minimum of 45 hours contact hours, as well as independent study, team project work and assessment preparation.

Teaching takes place between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday in one of our central London campuses. Students will receive their module timetable before they arriving on campus in June 2022.

Further information

This module can be taken as a residential programme. The residential module fee is £3375. Students on the residential programme can check into accommodation on the day prior to the start date (Sunday) and will check out on the day after the course ends (Saturday).

Course status:

Course closed

Full fee £2400

Application Fee £60

Terms and Conditions

Express interest


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