Academic Program | Key Theme Lectures & Seminars | Special Subject Lectures | Supervisions | Assessment and Credit | Academic Resources | Faculty

Academic Programme

ISI models its approach to teaching and learning on that offered in the University. Through lectures, seminars, a 2-day conference and guided research (‘supervisions’), you will explore in detail the role of the intelligence and security agencies in a democratic society whilst applying the enduring principles of intelligence and security to real and contemporary cutting-edge problems.

There will be a minimum of 45 hours contact teaching time and a requirement to produce an extended essay.

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.


The University of Glasgow

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.


Queen Mary in the University of London

Key Theme Lectures & Seminars

Key theme lectures and seminars will be taught by the ISI Co-Convenors Professor Michael Goodman, Professor of Intelligence and International Affairs in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and Official Historian of the Joint Intelligence Committee, and Dr David Gioe, Assistant Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Previously, Dr Gioe also spent over 15 years working in the U.S. intelligence community.


  1. The ISI introduction to Intelligence Studies
    This, the first lecture, considers the historiography of intelligence and the development of intelligence studies as a distinct field of academic inquiry. 
Guidance will be given on research methods, interpretative approaches and analytical writing when exploring this exciting but challenging field.
  2. The British Approach to Intelligence
    Here we will examine the ways in which the British intelligence community has developed what can be seen as a specific, characteristic approach towards its work over time and in response the changing nature of the threats it has encountered.
  3. Human Intelligence and Operational Tradecraft
    This lecture will use a Cold War case study to illuminate the promise and pitfalls of humans as intelligence agents. We will focus on intelligence collection, counter-intelligence and agent security – timeless tradecraft issues.
  4. Surprise Attack and Warning Failures
    Here we will consider classic examples of surprise attack including the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 and will identify some of the general lessons that emerge from them. We will consider whether there are ways to remedy the failures apparently inherent in intelligence work.
  5. Intelligence Liaison – Not all it might seem
    The focus will now shift to intelligence sharing, exploring the nature and importance of, and obstacles to, liaison between specific intelligence agencies and between international communities.
  6. The Good the Bad and the Ugly; Case Studies in Intelligence History
    Classic examples from the history of intelligence will be analysed with a view to identifying the role that intelligence plays in events and conflicts, and considering whether any generic issues emerge.
  7. Reading the Mind of the Enemy
    As Cyberpower increasingly dominates political and security agendas we will consider, through historical examples including the Pacific Theatre in the 2nd WW, the impact that code-breaking and deception have had on warfare.
  8. Rising Powers and Failing States
    The conventional wisdom holds that the US, UK, and NATO are challenged by Rising Powers such as an aggressive China and a resurgent Russia. But could it be the case that the transatlantic countries are actually threatened more by failing states?
  9. Treachery – a damage assessment  
    Cambridge University has produced its fair share of spies and traitors – not least the famous Cold War Five. Were any of these more outstandingly treacherous than Edward Snowden?  We will look at the claims of these and others to the title of ‘the greatest traitor ever’.

Special Subject Lectures

A series of special subject lectures given by experts in the relevant fields will look at some of the main issues facing intelligence agencies in the C21st. These will include:


  1. Writing the Official History of the Joint Intelligence Committee
    This lecture will consider the history and evolution of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee from 1936 to the present day.  It will also focus on methodological issues of conducting research in classified archives and other issues encountered in producing an ‘official history’.
  2. Intelligence Cooperation and Security Assistance in the Global South
    This lecture introduces ongoing cutting-edge research that asks three fundamental questions: why have states provided and sought out security assistance in the Global South since the end of World War Two; what influence has such assistance had on the characteristics and capabilities of recipient security sectors; and what second and third order effects has this security assistance had for both providers and recipients? The core of this lecture explains the fundamentals and challenges for researching issues such as this, in particular from the perspective of the UK’s security assistance footprint across the Global South.
  3. The Future of the State in the Middle East
    This lecture will analyse the role of state, non-state, and hybrid armed actors in the Middle East. It will argue that the collapse of the unitary state in many jurisdictions across the region has led to a problem of governance and representation, with different armed groups competing with central state authorities for legitimacy, power, and capacity.
  4. Intelligence History: from Spies to Said
    Moving beyond the concept of intelligence as ‘spies and secrets’ this lecture explores the historiography of intelligence studies, unpacking critical questions we should be asking in a discipline principally dominated by ex-practitioners with policy-orientated concerns. It showcases the application of Edward Said’s postcolonial theory of ‘Orientalism’ to the declassified record and highlights the benefits of more interdisciplinary approaches to the field.
  5. Legal and Ethical Dilemmas of Targeted Killing
    The targeted, ie planned, killing of individuals is a highly controversial notion in state security. Some states prefer this method, others emphatically reject it, at least officially. This lecture looks at the respective legal considerations as well as ethical dilemmas in particular. Is targeted killing fair? Is it against human rights? Or, as some argue, is it a rather effective method in the fight against terrorism? And where do ‘capture or kill’ operations come in? Students will learn about the different basic perspectives, and will be encouraged to find their own line of argumentation.

Additional Special Subject Lectures will focus on China and her near neighbours; details to follow.


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.

After being offered a place on ISI, participants will be asked to submit a research proposal and will be paired with a CSi expert to undertake a tailored, in-depth study of the chosen security or intelligence theme through five 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.

The program provides the support to conduct in-depth supervised research 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.


The University of Kentucky

Assessment and Credit

Assessment and Credit

There will be a minimum of 45hrs contact time comprising:

  • Key theme lectures and seminars (21.25 hours)
  • Special subject lectures (7.5 hours)
  • Supervisions (6.25 hours)
  • Conference participation, lectures and panel discussions (10 hours)

Each participant will be assessed according to their engagement with the Programme taking particular account of a 3,000-word researched essay produced during the Programme and submitted within a week of the Programme ending. All participants successfully completing ISI will receive a transcript showing a single grade together with grading guidance notes.

While it is ultimately for participants’ home institutions to determine the amount of academic credit to be awarded, as a guide it is recommended that completion of the programme can be considered as equivalent to completing 3 US-credits or 7.5 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits.

Academic Resources

ISI participants will have access to the University Library and be guided to a large range of specialist online resources.


Professor Michael S. Goodman

Research interests and expertise: intelligence studies, nuclear weapons history, and cold war history.

Professor Goodman is Professor of ‘Intelligence and International Affairs’ in the Department of War Studies, 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 Dave 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 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.

Frederic Ischebeck-Baum

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.