University of Leicester

MA Intelligence and Security

At A Glance

Course Title

MA Intelligence and Security

Course Type

Full Degree

Course Level


Study Method

Distance Learning

Start Date

March / September

Course Duration

12 – 24 months

Awarded & Delivered By

University of Leicester
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Course Description

The MA Intelligence and Security is the first course in Britain and only the second worldwide to be accredited by the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE), an international organisation dedicated to expanding research, knowledge and professional development in intelligence education. It will equip you with an understanding of key concepts and debates in intelligence and security and the current state of knowledge in the field. It will enable you to apply this new knowledge to your own field, whether as a practitioner or academic.

You will look in depth at four major themes:

  • key concepts and debates in intelligence
  • intelligence collection and analysis
  • intelligence failure
  • intelligence ethics

As well as a greater theoretical understanding of intelligence and security, this course looks at the subject from the perspective of civilian, military and police intelligence agencies as well as providing an insight into commercial intelligence activity, such as the provision of intelligence by private security companies and political risk analysis.

Combining world leading research by members of Politics and International Relations at Leicester, and their practical experience in the field of intelligence, this degree will give you an opportunity to conduct advanced study on intelligence theory and practice. The MA in Intelligence and Security will be especially beneficial to you if you are seeking professional development and/or enhanced employability working with intelligence in central government, the military, the police, private security sector, non-governmental organisations, the UN or other international organisations.

Course Content

Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly after the 9/11 attacks, intelligence has become increasingly important to governments and other entities trying to deal with a growing number of traditional and non-traditional threats: terrorism, international crime, pandemics, natural disasters, climate change, food security and competition for natural resources. But intelligence can only assist if it is properly understood and used effectively. Thus, the study of intelligence has now become an important component in the fields of security policy, international relations and politics. This module addresses some of the central questions about intelligence such as: what is intelligence? How is it managed, controlled and held accountable? Is the Intelligence Cycle valid? How can intelligence be used to reduce risk and uncertainty? What are its limitations? As a case study this module will use the Edward Snowden leaks to examine what they revealed about the conduct of intelligence and how they, in turn, affected it.
This module is divided into two sections. In the first section you’ll look at the main methods by which intelligence is collected – open sources, human sources, and signals intelligence – to understand the capabilities and limitations of each. This section introduces the concept of ‘big data’ and examines the challenges and opportunities for intelligence when agencies are presented with the vast amounts of information now available through the use of technology. In the second section you’ll study the various methodologies of intelligence analysis, including structured analytical techniques and hypothesis generation, to develop a critical understanding of their relative strengths and weaknesses. This section also covers predictive analysis and forecasting, both of which are key elements of intelligence products. You’ll also examine the crucial relationship between analysts and decision makers, and consider the question of ‘politicisation’ of intelligence.
It is often said that victory is the result of good planning, while defeat is the result of poor intelligence. Given that intelligence failure can be catastrophic, the single most important question regarding intelligence is how to prevent failure from occurring. In this module you’ll examine the concept of intelligence failure in detail, first by analysing the theories that seek to explain failure, and then by studying specific cases from national security and police intelligence to consider the utility of these different theoretical approaches. Finally, the module will examine the lessons learned from these cases to see how failure can either be avoided, or its risk mitigated.
Intelligence, by necessity, operates under a veil of secrecy and often seems to be a moral and ethical grey area. This module will examine questions of ethics in intelligence, drawing on Just War Theory and other philosophical perspectives to facilitate discussion of this dimension of intelligence practice. It will draw on cases from national security and police intelligence such as interrogation, electronic surveillance, and undercover policing.

The dissertation provides an opportunity for you to develop a specific subject and specialist knowledge, which means that your research has to be on a topic that fits with your degree title. It is is broken down into four stages, each of which follows a taught module. Each stage develops skills that will help you to write your dissertation. You are also assigned to a Dissertation Supervisor after completion of Stage 2 and the submission of the dissertation proposal.
The four stages of the dissertation module are as follows:

  • Dissertation part 1: This stage of the dissertation module introduces you to independent research, a key skill of postgraduate study. It explores how a research question is chosen and develops the skills needed to begin an extended research project.
  • Dissertation part 2: In this stage of the module you’ll look at example dissertation proposals and revisit the topic selected in Part One before moving on to develop an outline of your own research project and discussing the ethical implications of research. This module will culminate in you submitting a dissertation proposal.
  • Dissertation part 3: Here you’ll look in detail at literature reviews and how they can be used to further understanding of the research topic. This module will be an opportunity for you to develop your own literature reviews as a starting point for writing up the dissertation.
  • Dissertation part 4: This final stage of the dissertation module is designed to help you through the writing up stage. It encourages you to revisit the research question and brings together all the skills learnt on the previous stages. The module provides an open forum for you to discuss your work with peers, and finishes with submitting the dissertation.

Study Method

The Intelligence and Security MA degree is studied 100% online through the University of Leicester distance learning platform. Therefore it is essential that you have reliable, regular access to the internet (preferably with a broadband connection) in order to participate.
As a distance learning student, you will have access to the University Library’s electronic service, the Leicester Digital Library, which includes a large number of e-journals and e-books. You will be guided through your modules by a well-trained and experienced tutor who will be available online throughout your studies. You will have access to the library’s special service for distance learning students, access to the internet and database services, as well as the virtual learning support environment, Blackboard.
You will get a weekly reading list accompanied by questions or exercises to get you thinking and help you engage critically with that week’s literature. Each week you are invited to join the online forums to discuss your reading, ask questions, share ideas and debate arguments.
Alongside your weekly reading and discussions you are expected to complete module activities, designed to build a supportive online community of students as well as develop your key scholarly skills. E-tivities take the form of a combination of non-credit bearing and credit-bearing assessments designed to complement and support the learning objectives for your particular module. Credit-bearing assessments for each module include a reflective statement and an end of module essay.
Your modules are structured enough to keep your studies on track whilst remaining flexible to the unique needs of distance learners, many of whom we know combine studies with demanding jobs. You will be supported by a dedicated team of tutors and support staff available through Blackboard and email. Administrative support is available by telephone, and you can contact your personal tutor via telephone or Skype. You will be encouraged to contact other students to share views, ideas and issues and to create a virtual student community.

Course Fees

Please get in touch with us to get the most up-to-date course fee for this programme.

Entry Requirements

  • 2:1 degree or its equivalent in Politics, History, International Relations or other related subjects.
  • Equivalent relevant professional experience will be considered.

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability.

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This degree programme has intakes in March & September. Click the Enrol Now button and share your information so that one of our Academic Advisors will get in touch with you promptly.

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