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.

Western Intelligence in an Age of Terror HIST5111

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course surveys the way western intelligence agencies (primarily those of Britain and the United States) have dealt with the key security challenges of the early twenty-first century. It will introduce students to a number of concepts central to the study of intelligence and then apply these concepts to the study of intelligence responses to international challenges since the end of the Cold War.


10 x 2 hours seminars

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses






Written work will amount to 5,000 words, in the form of one essay of 3,500 words (70%) and one shorter seminar presentation report of 1,500 words (30%).

Course Aims

The course aims to:

■ Introduce students to key concepts in the study of intelligence and international security.

■ Apply these concepts to the study of western intelligence responses to the international challenges of the period since the end of the cold war.

■ Provide students with a better understanding of the uses and limits of intelligence.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

■ assess the historical background of the role of intelligence in international relations.

■ evaluate the central theoretical innovations developed in the study of intelligence and apply these innovations to specific cases.

■ Identify the challenges facing western intelligence services at the opening of the twenty-first century from terrorism and counter-insurgency to more traditional issues concerning the intentions and capabilities of states in the international system.

■ interpret the development of western intelligence services and their responses to terrorism. 

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.