ISI is a four-week university-level programme aimed at those with an academic or professional interest in intelligence and contemporary security threats. It offers a unique opportunity to work with leading practitioners and academics from the security and intelligence worlds. Chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove (formerly head of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service) and convened by Professor Michael Goodman of King’s London and Dr David Gioe of Westpoint, the programme considers the claims of state secrecy; the threats of nuclear proliferation, cyber-attack and terrorism; the problems generated by the demand for regional security, of governing diversity and the impact of revolutions. Understanding intelligence collection and how it is used, counter-intelligence and covert action, what intelligence can achieve, and its limitations are all major themes in this highly sought-after programme. Uniquely, ISI hosts a 2-day conference: National Security in a Changing World which examines in more detail many of the key issues explored during the programme.
I attended in the program as a recipient of the Sir Richard Dearlove Scholarship which fully funded my research and learning opportunity. The ISI program was a wonderful opportunity to and have in-depth learning on the topic of security from expert faculty members.
This program opened many opportunities, both academically and professionally, for me and is my fondest academic experience which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to be academically challenged, learn new perspectives, and research deep into a specific topic.
The International Security and Intelligence (ISI) programme was an invaluable, an intellectually-stimulating and an eye-opening experience that helped me answer some of the most puzzling questions at the age of 23. Surrounded by medieval environment and taught by a world-class faculty in the classic English traditions of the University of Cambridge, I was able to profoundly rethink and examine prevalent notions of conflict in the Arab World (and Yemen), military coalitions (with special attention to the Arab Coalition) and intelligence-sharing dynamics from smaller states’ lenses with my exceptional supervisor Dr Renad Mansour, the wider faculty and emerging fellow scholars. The discerning style in which the programme is designed, from classes and seminars to lectures and supervisions, allows each ISI participant to think independently, while benefiting from group discussions and feedback on ideas proposed.
Drawing on the diversity of scholars and range of expertise and classes offered, we rigorously unpacked and examined the evolution of ‘Intelligence Studies’ in the UK and the US, ‘National Security, Espionage and Whistleblowing’ and ‘Rising Powers in the Indo-Pacific’ and international ‘State-building Failure in the Middle East,’ among others.
Network-wise, as an ISI participant I had the privilege to interact with cutting-edge experts, including Professor Christopher Andrew, Sir Richard Dearlove, Lord Wilson, Dr David Gioe and Professor Michael Goodman, among others. The programme offered an unrivalled networking opportunity with leading experts, emerging young leaders and ISI alumnus, especially during the 2-day ISI Conference. The conference was robust and rich – I could confidently conclude it was the best conference I have ever attended for the wide-ranging agenda and unrivalled quality of panellists (private and public). From those sets of interaction, I was able to develop new ideas about the fluid world we live in and the extent of pragmatism driving its active forces. Hence, I formed long-term international friendships from across the world through traditional social dinners and outdoor activities (to historical venues).
The programme was an astonishing platform to critically analyse the most relevant opportunities and challenges of security and intelligence in the 21stCentury from the internationally contributing sources themselves, for which I sincerely appreciate the ISI Selection Committee for awarding me a Theresa Khuri full-scholarship Award and my nominators for their support, Professor Cheng-Chwee Kuik and Dr Eammon Butler. They have supported me, as a Yemeni scholar, to accomplish multidimensional learning objectives and for that I am thankful. The Cambrdige Security initiative’s merit-based fund covered almost everything, from Cambrdige full-board accommodation to programme fees, so make sure you apply if you meet the criteria.
Overall, as a Theresa Kuri Scholar ISI is a highly recommendable programme for the unrivalled academic, phenomenal networking and medieval social experience it offers at the University of Cambrdige. Big thanks to the ISI faculty and organising team for preparing a new generation of security experts.Ibrahim, the University of Glasgow
The ISI program is a unique learning experience set against the backdrop of the picturesque University of Cambridge. I was honored to receive a Theresa Khuri scholarship which provided me the means that I would not have had otherwise to travel to such a historic city and further my post-graduate education. The program provides the support to conduct an in-depth study of various topics regarding international security and intelligence and the opportunity to connect with experts from across the globe. Attended by students and professionals from a wide array of backgrounds, the ISI program gives you the freedom to explore topics applicable to your interests whether your future consists of academic study or professional work.Morgan, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky
ISI is a unique opportunity to study the unfairly under-investigated parts of modern international politics. The expertise on offer was phenomenal, and the discussions that we had in seminars and in smaller supervision groups was of a very high calibre. There was a broad range of topics that people chose to study, for example I looked at the behaviour of a particular nonstate militia group in Iraq 2003-2008, while others investigated subjects ranging from Russian or Chinese relations, US and UK politics and intelligence services, or international law and ethics. There was in-depth guidance on all topics from the tutors. There was also a very high quality of debate from staff and my course colleagues, and all were friendly, fascinating characters!
Aside from the academia, the whimsical Cambridge experience is not to missed: Shakespeare in college gardens, formal dinners at Magdalene and Trinity, and punting on the Cam to name a few highlights. I’d gladly recommend the ISI programme to anyone.James, Queen Mary the University of London
I was humbled to receive the Sir Richard Dearlove Scholarship. I had a wonderful time in Cambridge and made many happy memories that will last a lifetime. At times it was a scramble trying to fit everything in, as there is reading for seminars, preparation for supervisions, and independent research for your essay to be completed. Lectures were fascinating; always interesting, often amusing, and frequently akin to watching a good movie – they were finished before you wanted them to be. I enjoyed the group format of supervisions and learnt a great deal from my supervisor, not only in terms of my research essay for the ISI, but lessons that will stand me in good stead for the remainder of my academic life. Outside of academia, ISI made every effort to ensure we enjoyed an active social programme and made the most of our long summer evenings, with activities ranging from punting, live music in the park and Shakespearean plays in the College gardens, to visits to an air show and to Bletchley Park.
The ISI programme is special because it brings people from around the world together over a shared love of subject. It felt like coming home to talk with people you had never met before, and yet within minutes be immersed in deep conversation over mutual interests. My peers proved an exceptional resource for advice and help whenever I came across an obstacle in my research, and in turn I offered support to others. In short, you arrive as strangers but will quickly become firm friends, and we spent many happy hours taking trips to the pub, drinking coffee and eating ice cream together. At the end of the course, a big group of us strolled along the river to a rooftop bar, where we drank fancy cocktails and watched the sun set, celebrating (and commiserating, as none of us wanted to go home!) the end of the course. But then, it is not really the end – I remain in contact with many people and imagine that some of us may become colleagues in the future. I am grateful for the experiences I enjoyed, and warmly recommend the ISI programme to others.War Studies BA student, King’s College London and Sir Richard Dearlove Scholarship recipient
The International Security and Intelligence program at the University of Cambridge provided me a unique opportunity to delve deep into a specific topic and write a published academic paper. The people I met while at Cambridge are some of the smartest individuals I know. The diverse academic, cultural, and professional backgrounds of the students and professors helped provide numerous well informed perspectives on situations creating a great environment for academic debates and expansion of one’s mind and global perspective. This program opened many opportunities, both academically and professionally, for me and is my fondest academic experience which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to be academically challenged, learn new perspectives, and research deep into a specific topic.Harrison, Mercyhurst University
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
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
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
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
The International Security and Intelligence program was an amazing opportunity to learn about twenty-first century security issues with some of the best minds in academia and real-world practice. The lectures and classes were wonderful – in particular I loved the supervision groups, where we had the benefit of in-depth discussion and guidance from our teacher and peers. I have fond memories of writing my final paper in the beautiful library – you can’t get a more motivating atmosphere than that! The program isn’t all studying – I met and became friends with people from all over the world. Everyone came to study security and intelligence, but from a huge range of backgrounds and experiences. I learned as much from my classmates as from the professors. Towards the end of the experience I remember looking around and wondering what impressive things the people in my cohort would be doing in 5 years time. I’m grateful for this opportunity I had to spend time with such a fascinating and inspiring group.Joanna, Boston University
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