The Cambridge Security Initiative
& The Department of War Studies, King’s College London
The International Security and
7th July- 3rd August 2024- Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove, formerly Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6), the Cambridge Security Initiative (CSi) launched the International Security and Intelligence (ISI) Programme in 2016. The aim of this unique programme is to provide an opportunity for participants to meet and work with leading academics and practitioners from intelligence and security communities in the historic setting of one of the world’s foremost universities. The Programme is run in partnership with the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London.
The Programme convenors are Professor Michael S. Goodman, BA(Hons), MA, PhD, FRHistS, former Head of War Studies and Professor of Intelligence and International Affairs at King’s College London and Professor David Gioe, PhD, FRHistS, a British Academy Global Professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Professor Gioe brings over 23 years of combined active and reserve service working in the U.S. intelligence community, including analytical and operational roles in the FBI, CIA, DIA, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Western democracies face diverse and complex challenges from state and non-state actors which preoccupy the highest levels of government, private industry, and civil society. Themes explored include:
- How can western intelligence communities operate in a world of seemingly ubiquitous surveillance and how they might compete with – or harness – the revolution in open source data?
- Threats posed by intelligence, cyber warfare, radicalization, acts of terrorism, regional insecurity and information operations.
- Modern conceptions of transparency tempered by legitimate claims for state secrecy and the role of the intelligence and security agencies in a modern democratic society.
- Analytical challenges and the intelligence-policy interface.
- Various mechanisms of intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination, intelligence liaison, counter-intelligence and covert operations.
Teaching is modelled on that offered by Cambridge University and the pace is set by lectures, seminars and supervisions (tutorials) designed specifically for this programme.
Included in the Programme is attendance at CSi’s annual Conference (25th and 26th July 2024) which explores Intelligence and National Security in a Changing World.
Participants have the opportunity to participate in a lively social and cultural programme with academic, pastoral and medical support. Paricipants will have access to the Cambridge University Library for the duration of the Programme as well as a bespoke online learning platform.
Applications are invited from students and practitioners with an intellectual or professional interest in statecraft and the interlocking themes of intelligence, security, defence and foreign policy.
As a person with zero experience in the field of Intelligence Studies, the ISI was a perfect introduction. My learning curve was exponential and within the first week, I was presenting on topics which a week before I did not even know existed. The faculty and the operations team were wonderful, making sure participants were ok and offering one-on-one support in their various fields of expertise. The most remarkable thing about the programme was that I, a University student, was learning alongside people currently hands-on working both with and in international intelligence agencies, which was a surreal experience. Attending the ISI has inspired me to continue exploring possibilities in this field and has opened my eyes to the unique capabilities of Intelligence in the modern world.
Rosa, ISI Student 2023
ISI offers an integrated programme of lectures, seminars and supervisions. The Programme has two ‘tracks’ which all participants take:
Track 1: Independent Supervised Research
ISI participants choose a research track which explores, in detail, a particular security or intelligence theme through a series of ‘supervisions’. Supervision, central to Cambridge teaching and learning, brings together up to six students under the guidance of an expert in the field to conduct research-based work culminating in the production of an extended essay of 3,500 words. Applicants to ISI will submit a supervision proposal as part of their application. Each group meets for five x 1.25hrs sessions backed up by office hours.
The following are examples of research topics:
- Science and Security, i.e., pandemics and nuclear proliferation
- Human intelligence/the US and UK intelligence communities
- Cyber and information operations
- Regional security topics covering the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
- Islamist and other extremist terrorism and violent non-state actors
- Intelligence analysis, liaison, oversight, policymaking, and accountability
- Russian and European security and intelligence issues
- Security cooperation (especially in the Global South)
While we will endeavour to accommodate proposals that fall outside these areas, we encourage all students to use and follow the topics above.
Supervision group allocations are made in the weeks leading up to the programme and once fees have been paid in full.
Track 2: Topics in International Security and Intelligence
The central themes of the Programme are explored through core lectures and seminars given by ISI Faculty.
Key themes include:
- The role of intelligence and security agencies
- The 21st century threat landscape in an historical perspective
- The intelligence cycle
- Transparency, oversight, and competing claims of state secrecy
- Information operations
- Terrorism and conventional warfare
- Topics in regional security
- The security implications of digital revolutions
Intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination remain at the core of the intelligence cycle while counter-intelligence and covert action play more opaque but still vital roles at the heart of the nation-state and international alliances. Understanding what intelligence can achieve, and its limitations, will be major themes for analysis and discussion and will be further explored at the annual Conference.
The Programme also hosts a series of outstanding Special Subject Lectures covering a broad range of contemporary intelligence and security issues. In recent years these have ben given by former Heads of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the French Security Services; the Chief Judge to the Appeals Court of the United States Armed Forces, and the CIA Deputy Director for Operations as well as by leading academics working in the field of Intelligence and Security studies.
The total contact time for this track is a minimum of 40 hours.
ISI uses Moodle, an Online Learning Platform, where the Independent Research Project is uploaded, the timetable can be accessed and resources can be downloaded.
Please refer to the 2024 ISI Syllabus for additional information.
ISI is an exceptional experience and I am truly grateful for the time I have spent in Cambridge. The programme offers a unique opportunity for interaction and collaboration between professional practitioners and the academic world. The many accomplished lecturers and guest speakers provide exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge and rare practical experience otherwise difficult to tap into. Furthermore, I believe that the student body itself, spanning multiple countries, a wide variety of professional backgrounds, and all levels of higher education, offer exciting and inspiring new perspectives on contemporary security- and intelligence related issues. Additionally, the programme provides a friendly social environment for forging new professional and personal connections.
Kristoffer, Umeå University
ISI operates a rolling application process and is always fully-subscribed. Early application is therefore strongly advised.
|ISI 2024 Events||Dates|
Scholarship Application Deadline
17:00 Greenwich Mean Time on Monday 12th February 2024
ISI 2024 Residential Programme
|Sunday 7th July 2024 – Saturday 3rdAugust 2024|
CSi 2024 Conference
|Thursday 25th and Friday 26th July 2024|
Supervised Independent Research Project due date
|Friday 16th August 2024|
|Grades issued||Friday 6th September 2024|
|Friday 20th September 2024|
The Cambridge Security Initiative’s ISI Programme was truly the perfect way to invest my summer: by studying deeply fascinating and academically rigorous material – from intelligence history to the impacts of security-critical current events – all while enjoying England’s rich history and culture while calling picturesque Magdalene College my home. This an experience not to miss that has left me with memories to forever treasure!
Rae-Kelly, the United States Naval Academy
Taking part in the ISI program exposed me to new theories and phenomena that were presented by pillars in the fields of security and intelligence and afforded me the ability to include them into my own field of study. That led me to progress further in my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Also, Cambridge was a wonderful setting for this program. It was beautiful, so calm and peaceful. I definitely recommended it to anyone who is interested in this topic!
Lena, the American University Beirut
CSi’s annual conference explores current themes relating to Intelligence and National Security in a Changing World. The Conference, which all ISI participants attend, brings together speakers and delegates from governments, security agencies, academia and business to explore a wide range of security-related issues. Past speakers have included heads of the British Cabinet Office, the French Security Service, GCHQ and MI6, distinguished academics, ambassadors and business leaders.
For additional information, please visit our Conference Page.
Accommodation and Meals
Founded in 1584, Emmanuel College with its quiet courts and gardens is set in the heart of medieval (and modern) Cambridge. Like most colleges it has a rich architectural history and its central location provides the ideal base from which to explore the cultural and social life of this historic City.
Single occupancy accommodation is offered for the duration of the Programme either with en-suite or shared bathroom facilities. Linens, towels and cleaning by College staff are provided and laundry facilities are available. There are well-equipped kitchens for students’ use on each floor; study and social spaces; wi-fi, a cafe, a a bar and a fine historic dining hall. Breakfast is included in the accommodation fee (Sunday – Friday). Also included are at least two ‘formal halls’ (served three-course dinners) each week. Central Cambridge offers an abundance of food outlets to suit all tastes (and budgets), a very popular daily produce market and many convenience stores.
ISI is a residential programme bringing together people from many countries with shared intellectual interests who find there is much to be gained from the shared social and cultural experience.
Should it not be possible for you to live in Cambridge for the duration of the Programme for family or other reasons, please let us know when you make your application.
The Cultural and Social Programme
ISI offers a busy and varied cultural and social programme. Highlights include a daytrip to Bletchley Park (included in the programe fee) historical tours of the University, punting, pub outings, afternoon tea at Grantchester and the Cambridge outdoor Shakespeare festival.
And London is a just fifty minute train ride away!
The operations team was phenomenal, they did an excellent job coordinating all events. Given the vast educational background of the ops staff, they were able to provide assistance on not just the ops side, but the educational and professional side as well.
Morgan, ISI 2023
It was very apparent that the CSi Conference was very well-organized, and there was a lot of time and effort put into the set up. The panels were great, intellectually stimulating, and very relevant to today’s world events.
Jacob, ISI 2023
Application and Practical Information
Applications are invited from students in higher education and from professionals.
Successful applicants will usually have a GPA of well above the minimum 3.6 (or equivalent) requirement and are likely to be in the later stages of an undergraduate course, studying for a Master’s degree, PhD or have graduated. However, it should be stressed that we look carefully at the whole application, not least where may be be good reasons for a modest GPA.
All students who are accepted on to the Programme will be asked to confirm that they have read, understood and will abide by the ISI Health, Safety and Emergency Protocols and Codes of Conduct.
- If you are currently enrolled in higher education, you will need to upload an academic transcript and an academic reference.
- If you are a professional applicant, you will need to upload your CV and a professional reference.
- A Personal Statement of 500 words or less, explaining why you would like to participate in ISI 2024 focusing on your professional or academic experiences and what you feel you will gain from the programme.
- ISI Research Supervision Proposal including the subject area, title, brief description, relevant work and sources.
- Proof of English Language Proficiency. This is only required for non-native English speakers studying at Universities whose language of instruction is not English.
ISI fees consist of the following:
- Administration Fee £150.00 (due on application; non-refundable)
- A Programme Fee covering the academic programme and one of the following accommodation options:
(Option A) Private bedroom and shared bathroom £4,525.00
(Option B) Private bedroom with en-suite facilities £5,200.00
The Programme fee is payable once an applicant is admitted. Receipt of the relevant programme fee secures and guarantees your place on the ISI Programme.
The accommodation fee includes a daily continental breakfast and covers attendance at 10 ‘formal halls’.
Please note, en-suites are subject to availability and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Click on the icon to access the payment instructions
English Language Requirements
If you are a non-native English speaker studying at a University whose language of instruction is not English it is essential that your English language skills are good enough for you to undertake an intensive and challenging academic programme that is taught and assessed in English.
You will therefore need to meet the same requirements as a Cambridge undergraduate and to provide evidence of one of the following:
IELTS: overall score of 7.5 (with at least 7.0 in each element)
TOEFL (Internet Based Test): overall score of 110 with 25 or above in each element.
Cambridge English: C2 Proficiency – accepted with a minimum overall score of 200, with no element lower than 185
Cambridge English: C1 Advanced – accepted with a minimum overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185, alongside other evidence of competence in English
English Language GCSE, or O-level: grade B or equivalent
International Baccalaureate Standard Level (SL): score of 5 in English (as Language A or B)
European Baccalaureate: score of 70% in English Studied the International Baccalaureate programme, if it is taught in English Studied the Singapore Integrated Programme (SIPCAL)
If your programme/ University Course is taught in English- you have met the language requirement.
Sir Richard Dearlove Scholarship
There are five full tuition-fee Scholarships available for students attending the ISI Programme – who will have a GPA above 3.6.
The Cambridge Security Initiative welcomes applications for the 2024 ISI Scholarships.
The deadline for Scholarship applications is 17:00 Greenwich Mean Time on Monday 12th February 2024.
Click on the icon below to submit your Scholarship application.
The International Security and Intelligence Program at Cambridge represents an unparalleled opportunity to delve into contemporary security risks. The program serves as a primer on intelligence collection and analysis. Yet the true value of the program is not derived from the curricula they’ve put together, but the plenary lecturers offered by the faculty. As a student seeking tangible professional experience in this field, I found the course to be invaluable in terms of the insight former intelligence officials provided with respect to how our national security is maintained. Most importantly, the opportunity to research, develop, and brief a topic of my choosing (under the guidance of a faculty member with similar interests), further reinforced my desire to pursue a career in national security.
Harrison, American University, Washington DC
Insurance and Visa Information
All participants must ensure that they have adequate insurance prior to travelling to Cambridge. Insurance should cover:
- all international medical and emergency expenses;
- loss or damage to your personal belongings while you are travelling to/from and during your stay in the UK;
- personal liability.
If you require a visa, you can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities.
You must apply for a Standard Visitor visa online before you travel to the UK.
A Standard Visitor visa costs £115 for up to 6 months. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
If you visit the UK regularly, you can choose to apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa instead.
Please check you meet the eligibility requirements on the UK Government Website.
Additional Information about UK Visas can be found here.
Please note: the Cambridge Security Initiative and the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London are responsible to the UK Border Force for monitoring attendance at the Programme to ensure that students comply with the terms of their visa.
We strongly advise you to take copies of your passport, Visa Letter and insurance policies prior to travelling and keep these separate from the originals.
If you arrive in Cambridge without the correct immigration clearance for short term study, we will not permit you to start the programme. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa clearance to participate in ISI.
If you will be receiving financial aid and intend to use this to pay all/some of the ISI fee, disbursement dates may delay your ability to pay the fee. In such a case it may be possible for you to secure your place by paying a £500 deposit and the balance once your aid is released. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss such arrangements at the earliest opportunity.
The ISI program was a wonderful opportunity to delve into further research and have an in-depth learning experience on the topic of security from expert faculty members. I attended as a recipient of the Sir Richard Dearlove Scholarship which fully funded my research and learning opportunity. The classroom environment uniquely combined lectures with one-on-one supervisions to improve your existing research skills. The program also provided a good balance of academic and social activities. Aside from the many learning opportunities, living in Cambridge is a one of a kind experience that I would highly recommend.
Priyanka, the Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
ISI Faculty and Alumni Publications
Incoming students frequently enquire about publication opportunities that stem from work completed during the Programme. Supervisors encourage students to pursue publication opportunities. With this in mind, we highly recommend that you discuss with your supervisor about the pathway to publication upon arrival in Cambridge. A selection of ISI Faculty and Alumni Publications can be found on our Social Media Pages linked below.
If you are an alumni of ISI and wish to publish you article on our website please email email@example.com.
ISI is a unique experience – no other program out there provides you both the ability to receive a comprehensive education on intelligence and security studies and apply that education to your passions. The programme grounded my interests in international security and policy. Without the support of the staff and my supervision group, I would not have been able to produce my first-ever academic publication.
Jobel, the University of California Berkeley