PO3INT-Intelligence, War and International Relations

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Geoff Sloan

Email: G.R.Sloan@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module aims to provide students with an insight into the pertinence and diversity of the intelligence function within war, strategy and international politics. This will entail acquiring a thorough understanding of the various concepts, changes and continuities associated with intelligence activities in the twentieth and early twenty first centuries.


This module aims to familiarise students with the diversity and importance of the intelligence function in both war and international politics. The course will also encourage them to think about the factors that contribute to the inception and development of an intelligence community in a particular state. Using case studies drawn from the twentieth century students will be asked to identify the various strategies and problems are associated with intelligence activities. An assessment will also be made of the diversity of the intelligence function in the post Cold War era. 

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

- Demonstrate an understanding of the craft and theory of intelligence

- Be able to evaluate and identify the origins, structures, procedures and utility of intelligence activity, with particular reference to war and foreign policy crises

- Demonstrate that they can apply the key concepts of the intelligence cycle and Sun Tzu's typology to empirical case studies

- Demonst rate an awareness of the problems of primary sources and their impact on the academic study of intelligence as the "hidden dimension" of International Relations

Additional outcomes:
The module will facilitate the development generic cognitive skills such as the evaluation and manipulation of empirical material; the evaluation of complex arguments and hypotheses with varying degrees of generality; methodological evaluation of the evidential status of different types of source material.

In addition, there will also be an outcome in terms of communication. This will include the production of written work; design, preparation, management and delivery of group presentations.

Outline content:

Indicative content only: 1. The Relevance of Intelligence to International Relations 2. The Craft of Intelligence - (i) The intelligence cycle, and a typology of human intelligence sources 3. The Craft of Intelligence - (ii) The role of deception operations in the East and the West 4. The Origins and Development of British Intelligence 1905-1939 5. The Twentieth Century Weapon - Signals Intelligence 6. Signals Intelligence in the Second World War 7. Operational Intelligence Centre and the Bat tle of the Atlantic 8. Dawn Like Thunder - The Origins of the CIA 9. Cold War intelligence operations10. Intelligence in the Post-Cold War World

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars involving readings of primary and secondary material relating to the concepts, theories and case studies of intelligence in the twentieth and twenty first century. In addition, to readings on these matters students will be encouraged to engage with some questions which arise from the development of intelligence in the last thirty years as a subject of academic study, and its enduring relevance as an important instrument of governance both domestically and in international politics.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 2
Seminars 18 4
Guided independent study: 176
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One three-hour examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One essay of 4,000 words. Visiting students will follow the same assessments but only those enrolled for the summer term will sit the examination. Those visiting students who are here for Autumn and Spring terms only but wish to gain full credits will also write a 4000 word essay in place of the examination, to be submitted by the first day of the summer term. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one essay of 4000 words in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Written marksheet provided with each essay. In addition, time is available for individual discussion on essay performance.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Candidates who fail their final year normally have the right to be re-examined on one further occasion at the next opportunity. These candidates will not normally be eligible for Honours (ie., only a ‘Pass’ classification would be attainable). Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements (coursework and re-examination) even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward. Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.

Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted within published guidelines. 

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books: Secret Intelligence. A Reader. Edited by Richard J. Aldrich, Christopher Andrew &Wesley K. Wark (2009) Routledge. Paperback- ISBN: 9780415420242. RRP. £34.99

Intelligence Power in Peace and War. Michael Herman. Cambridge University Press (1996). Paperback ISBN: 9780521566360. RRP. £34.99

2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 July 2020


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