Academic Programme | Academic Resources | Supervised Research | Exemplar Essays | Faculty
ISI offers a unique opportunity to study with leading academics and practitioners. With a special emphasis on human intelligence, students will explore the role of intelligence and security agencies, consider the 21st century threat landscape in historical perspective and analyse, through a wide panoply of optics, the intelligence cycle, competing claims of state secrecy, information operations, terrorism, the problems generated by the demand for regional security and the security aspects of digital revolutions. Intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination remain at the core of the intelligence cycle, while counterintelligence and covert action play more opaque but still vital roles at the heart of the nation state and international alliances. Understanding these perspectives, what intelligence can achieve, but also its limitations, are major course themes.
Setting the tone and direction of the Programme will be a series of outstanding Special Subject Lectures covering a broad spectrum of contemporary intelligence and security challenges, delivered in recent years by the Heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ; the Chief Judge to the Appeals Court of the United States Armed Forces, and the CIA Deputy Director for Operations, and leading academics working in the field of Intelligence and Security studies.
The multitude of threats facing Western democracies is diverse and the issues which preoccupy the highest levels of government will be discussed and analysed. With its emphasis on contemporary and future challenges and practice, ISI is a course which will appeal to those with an academic or professional interest in intelligence and contemporary threats.
Assessment and credit are awarded on the basis of performance in the Programme’s two tracks:
(1) Independent Supervised Research (6.25hrs) which will be assessed by the submission of a 3,500-word essay.
(2) Topics in International Security and Intelligence (40hrs) which will be assessed by two c.750-word written pieces.
The 2020 ISI Syllabus contains detailed information about the academic programme.
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.Ibrahim
The expertise on offer was phenomenal…people chose to study a broad range of topics: for example I looked at the behaviour of a particular nonstate militia group in Iraq 2003-2008, while others examined Russian or Chinese relations, US and UK politics and intelligence services, and international law and ethics.James
ISI participants will have access to the University Library and will be guided to a large range of specialist online resources.
ISI participants will also follow a research track exploring in detail a particular security or intelligence theme through a series of ‘supervisions’. Supervision, central to Cambridge teaching, brings together a small group of students under the guidance of an expert in the field to conduct research-focused work culminating in the production of an extended essay.
Upon application to ISI, participants will be asked to submit a research proposal and, if successfully admitted onto the Programme, will be paired with a CSi expert to undertake a tailored, in-depth study of the chosen security or intelligence theme through five x 1.25hrs taught supervisions. Research tracks chosen in the past have included topics such as regional studies, intra-state conflict, resource security, WMD proliferation and terrorism.
For more information about ISI supervisors and potential research topics, please see the Faculty page.
Exemplar Essays & Academic Expectations
Lily Dodd, Yale University
Abstract: Gallup polls taken between 1963 and 2013 have consistently shown a belief among many Americans that some kind of conspiracy was at work in the killing of John F. Kennedy. Over the past fifty-six years, the government has engaged with Kennedy conspiracy theorists–whether by defending against them, actively investigating them, or supporting them. The aftermath of the Kennedy assassination has proven that conspiracy theories can drive action in Congress and United States Intelligence Communities; the vivid imaginations of regular citizens and the powerful institutions we trust to govern us do not always inhabit separate worlds.
ISI Faculty 2017-2020
Professor Michael S. Goodman
Research interests and expertise: intelligence studies, nuclear weapons history, and cold war history.
Professor Goodman is Head of War Studies, Dean of Research Impact and Professor of ‘Intelligence and International Affairs’ at King’s College, London and Visiting Professor at the Norwegian Defence Intelligence School. He has published widely in the field of intelligence history, including most recently The Official History of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Volume I: From the Approach of the Second World War to the Suez Crisis (Routledge, 2015), which was chosen as one of The Spectator’s books of the year. He is series editor for ‘Intelligence and Security’ for Hurst/Columbia University Press; and for ‘Intelligence, Surveillance and Secret Warfare’ for Edinburgh University Press; and is a member of the editorial boards for five journals. He is currently on secondment to the Cabinet Office where he is the Official Historian of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Dr David Gioe
Research interests and expertise: counter-terrorism, cyber studies and cyber warfare, intelligence and international security studies, history of Anglo-American intelligence and Security Services, and American foreign relations.
Dr David Gioe is Assistant Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He also serves as the History Fellow for the Army Cyber Institute. Dr Gioe spent over 15 years working in the U.S. intelligence community, beginning with appointment in 2001 as a Presidential Management Fellow in the FBI National Security Division. He then served in the CIA Counterterrorist Center (CTC) before earning field certification as an Operations Officer. Dr Gioe served multiple overseas tours as a case officer before leaving CIA to pursue his doctorate. He retains his commission as a Naval Reserve Intelligence Officer with service in the Office of Naval Intelligence and assignments in Africa, Europe, and the Far East. His most recent position was Director of Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Before that he was Director of the Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course (Reserve) supporting the Joint Analysis Center, RAF Molesworth, UK, where he also served as Adjunct Faculty for National Intelligence University (NIU). Dr Gioe earned his PhD in Politics and International Studies at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. He holds a BA in History and Social Science from Wheaton College, an MA from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College Command and Staff program. He has published in The National Interest, World Politics Review, and co-edited a volume with Christopher Andrew and Len Scott on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dr Gioe’s personal military decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal, in addition to other personal and unit awards.
Dr Daniela Richterova
Research interests and expertise: Intelligence and Security Studies, Cold War, counterterrorism, intelligence liaison, Soviet Union/Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, intelligence analysis and policymaking.
Dr Daniela Richterova is a Lecturer in Intelligence Studies at Brunel University London. Her research focuses on intelligence alliances between state and violent non-state actors and counterterrorism intelligence from the Cold War up to the present. Daniela has presented her research at the Davis Center at Harvard University, the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, the Intelligence Seminar at the University of Cambridge, and the SGI – the British Study Group in Intelligence. Most recently, she has published in The International Historical Review and in West European Politics. Daniela completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Richard J. Aldrich and Professor Mark Harrison at the Politics and International Studies Department at the University of Warwick. Funded by the Chancellor’s Scholarship, her doctoral thesis interrogated the security and intelligence relationship between communist Czechoslovakia and violent Middle Eastern non-state actors. Daniela is a member of the SGI’s Steering Committee and teaches on the Cambridge Security Initiative’s specialist short-course in International Security and Intelligence (ISI). She earned her graduate degree in War Studies at King´s College London and completed her undergraduate studies in Politics and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava and NYU in New York. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Daniela worked as a researcher at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels and was in charge of the programme of GLOBSEC – The Bratislava Global Security Forum – an annual high-level conference on international security policy.
Dr Jessica Lynn Corsi
Research interests and expertise: violence prevention, counter terrorism, sexual violence, gender based violence, international criminal law, public international law, international human rights law, and jurisprudence.
Jessica Lynn Corsi is a legal and violence prevention expert and a Law Lecturer at Brunel University London. Her work focuses on harnessing law and policy to prevent violence and foster substantive equality. Jessica has worked in Africa, Melanesia, Oceania, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America on a variety of violence prevention and human rights related project projects, and has published widely in law journals on these topics. She has worked for employers such as the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and governments in various parts of the world. She read her PhD in international law at Cambridge University, and also holds a masters in law from Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, and a Bachelor in Science from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. In 2018 Jessica won three research grants for projects that address preventing violence against children, preventing hate crimes, and creating gender parity on the International Court of Justice. She is currently working on these projects as well as projects on criminalising sexual harassment, reducing rates of imprisonment in the UK, and preventing terrorism.
Research interests and expertise: national security, intelligence, counter-terrorism and military strategy.
Frederic is a Fellow of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War, King’s College London, and was previously Assistant Director of the latter’s Centre for Defence Studies. His expertise includes defence and security policy, strategic intelligence and early warning, military strategy, national security, and counter-terrorism. He holds degrees in International Law from Frankfurt University, in International Relations from the University of Saint Andrews, and in War Studies from King’s College London. Frederic has advised government, and has lectured at a range of high-profile academic and political institutions. He has a military background and has been deployed numerous times.
Dr Renad Mansour
Research interests and expertise: comparative politics and international relations in the Middle East, Iraq, international relations of the Middle East, the state and state-building in the Middle East, the politics of the Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Renad is Research Fellow Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House and visiting fellow at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. Prior to joining Chatham House, Renad was an El-Erian fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre, where he examined Iraq, Iran and Kurdish affairs. Renad is also a research fellow at the Cambridge Security Initiative based at Cambridge University and from 2013, he held positions as lecturer of International Studies and supervisor at the faculty of politics, also at Cambridge University. Renad has been a senior research fellow at the Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies in Beirut since 2011 and was adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government Civil Society Ministry between 2008 and 2010. He received his PhD from Pembroke College, Cambridge.
Renad’s research at Chatham House explores the situation of Iraq in transition and the dilemmas posed by state-building.
Dr Dina Rezk
Research interests and expertise: reform and revolt in the Middle East, Egypt from Ataturk to the Arab Spring, intelligence, 20th Century Middle Eastern history, popular culture and terrorism/insurgency.
Rina is a lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Reading. She received her Ph.D from Cambridge University in 2013 and subsequently spent two years at the Politics Department in Warwick University as a Teaching Fellow in Intelligence and Security.
Her doctorate examined how the Anglo-American ‘official mind’ conceptualized the Arab World by deconstructing diplomatic and intelligence assessments produced throughout two decades of crises. It traced the revolutions that swept across Iraq, Syria and Yemen, three devastating Arab-Israeli wars and moves towards an uneasy peace between Egypt and Israel in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The thesis revealed the centrality of cultural representations and ideas about the Arab ‘Other’ articulated by analysts. Moreover, contrasting Western assessments with Arabic sources provided a unique inter-cultural dialogue about the formative events, individuals and themes that have shaped the modern Middle East, from ‘Nasserism’ to political Islam. The thesis based- monograph, Western Intelligence and the Arab World: Analysing the Middle East will be published in 2017.
More recently Dina’s research has focussed on the latest upheavals of the ‘Arab Spring’ across the Middle East. This has found a receptive audience in the policy world and she has briefed the Cabinet Office, Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, NATO and the U.S. Department of Defense on her findings.
Dr Thomas Maguire
Research interests and expertise: the roles of intelligence and propaganda in foreign policy and domestic security; security sector reform and assistance; counter-insurgency; violent extremism (especially in East Africa); organised crime; international security liaison; and the Cold War and decolonisation.
Dr Thomas Maguire is a Junior Research Fellow at Darwin College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, and Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. He completed his PhD in POLIS exploring interactions between the practices of intelligence and propaganda, with an empirical focus on British and American use of these tools of foreign policy in Cold War Southeast Asia. He was awarded the Lisa Smirl Prize for best thesis in his year.
Tom is currently conducting two projects: one examining the extent to which and in what ways evidence from secret intelligence sources have informed or provided the basis for investigations and prosecutions of terrorism and terrorism-related offences in the UK; the other interrogating the aims, nature and impacts of the British state’s use of internal security assistance in the Global South since 1945. This latter project is intended to better inform understanding of, on the one hand, imperial legacies and the UK’s post-imperial influence and, on the other, contemporary debates regarding ‘upstream conflict prevention’, ‘security sector reform’ and human rights.
From 2014-15, Tom was the John Garnett Visiting Fellow within the National Security & Resilience Studies programme at the Whitehall-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), focusing on conflict, violent extremism and organised crime in East Africa. Tom has published work on a range of issues, from counter-subversion in Cold War Britain, to the linked practices of intelligence and propaganda in counter-insurgency during the Malayan Emergency, to the Somali terrorist organisation Al-Shabaab’s funding, to linkages between ivory trafficking and threat financing in East Africa. Tom holds a BA (Hons.) in History from Durham University, completed an MPhil in International Relations at POLIS.