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Intelligence In War Studies (Module)

Module description

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.


Through the remainder of that same night, unchanged, unshaven, George Smiley remained bowed at the table, reading, comparing, annotating, cross-referencing. At this point his mood could but compared with that of a scientist who seems by instinct that he is on the brink of a discovery, and is waiting any minute that logical corrections. Later

… he called it “shoving everything into a test-tube and seeing if it exploded” … And he had it. No explosive revelation,

no flash of light, no cry of “Eureka” … merely that before him, in the records he had examined and the notes he had compiled was the corroboration of the theory.’

 John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The analogy between the intelligence analyst and the academic, evoked above by the spy fiction writer John le Carré, is theme of this module. Intelligence in War Studies aims to teach students about the function of intelligence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and promote reflection on the nature of scholarly work. The connection between scholars and the spies is not just a fanciful one dreamed up by novelists. During the world wars and the Cold War, academics swelled the ranks of Anglo-American intelligence organisations. Early pioneers of intelligence theory and practice, such as Sherman Kent, author of the classic Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy (1966), were also distinguished scholars. By learning about the problems of gathering evidence, interpretation, analysis, presentation and distribution of intelligence, you will also learn to be a better War Studies student. 

The aims of the module are:

  • To promote multidisciplinary understanding of concepts, issues and debates regarding intelligence in war
  • To encourage reflection on the meaning, value and nature of intelligence and of types of intelligence as evidence and bases for action
  • To encourage understanding of the interactive processes of assessment and analysis
  • To foster conscious critical reading and discussion of issues of information, intelligence, policy and action
  • To promote an understanding of scholarly activity in relation to intelligence
  • To foster appreciation of intelligence skills and tools for understanding future developments
  • To foster understanding and application of a range of intellectual and study skills, building on work in Art of War Studies and Contemporary Security Issues in Year 1
  • To foster understanding and application of a range of key skills – communication and listening, teamwork, flexibility and the use of IT.


At the end of the module students will have:

  • Familiarity with key concepts of information and intelligence
  • Understanding of the variety of factors affecting the collection, processing and use of information
  • Command of key concepts such as human intelligence, signals intelligence, assessment and analysis, and operations
  • Understanding of intelligence as both a challenge to and a support of international order
  • Examined literature on different approaches to intelligence in history and other forms of social science
  • Knowledge and understanding of intelligence and security in relation to specific empirical cases
  • Explored the problems and possible practical solutions to issues of intelligence, war and security
  • To have contributed to and participated in the formation of a joint project investigating and assessing the relevance and relationship of intelligence to determining future developments, policy or action.
  • Career and employability skill development.

Staff information

Professor Michael Goodman*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Coursework & Exam*

Key information

Module code 5SSW2050

Credit level 5

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module Yes