Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

The Evolution of the US Intelligence Community HIST4259

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the historical development of the US Intelligence Community from the War of Independence to the Global War on Terrorism. Particular emphasis will be put on the role intelligence has played in American foreign and domestic policy, as well as broader political developments worldwide.


15x1hr lectures; 5x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Examination (60 Minutes) - 35%

Essay (3,000 words) - 50%

Seminar Presentation with handout or PowerPoint (8 minutes) and seminar contribution - 10% + 5%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Provide students with an understanding of how the US intelligence community has developed and how it served the US government, specifically throughout the twentieth century.

■ Provide the opportunity to evaluate the role of intelligence in domestic and foreign policy, consider how historians have approached the role of intelligence services

■ Critically assess a range of primary sources and secondary literature and develop written and oral presentation skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Draw informed conclusions about US intelligence and national security policy

■ Locate, analyse and synthesise information from a variety of sources and media

■ Critically assess a range of primary sources and secondary arguments, and construct a coherent and consistent independent argument.

■ Exercise critical judgment in investigating historical problems relating to US national security

■ Evaluate relevant ethical frameworks applying to national security decision-making

■ Develop skills in written communication and develop oral presentation skills, including the ability to introduce audiences to new material and to articulate analytic positions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.