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Vigilant State: The Politics of Intelligence (PO382)

Should terrorist suspects be tortured? When is right for Prime Minister to order a drone strike? Can Putin read my emails and is Snowden to blame?

Secret intelligence is now a large and controversial part of government. This module seeks to situate secret intelligence in a broad governmental context, viewing this as an aspect of international statecraft, or as a series of practices that raise constitutional problems and issues of civil rights. Accordingly, this module is as much about how policy-makers make use - or fail to make use - of intelligence, and how secret services might be regulated within a constitutional framework, as about the practices of secret service itself.

Programme content

This module enables you to critically examine the conventional wisdom about the politics of secret intelligence and as a result to gain a sophisticated understanding of the role of intelligence within international relations. At the end of the module you should be able to understand the main conceptual debates about how we might define intelligence and information in the context of policy-making. You should be able to interpret the debates over the nature of the intelligence-cycle, together with related ideas of surprise attack and the sources of intelligence failure. You should be able to assess the claims made for democratic oversight and accountability in a comparative context. You should be able to evaluate the response of both liberal and illiberal states to issues of civil rights and freedoms in the context of surveillance.


This module is worth 30 CATS