The International Security and Intelligence Programme and Conference

Please note that McGill students must obtain permission from their faculty before participating in study abroad programs.

Dates: ISI will take place between 7th July and 2nd August, 2019.

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Chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove (formerly head of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service) and convened by Professor Michael Goodman and Dr David Gioe, the International Security and Intelligence Programme (ISI) will consider the claims of state secrecy, the threat of nuclear proliferation, of cyber-attack, of terrorism, the problems generated by the demand for regional security and the security challenges of revolutions and governing diversity.

The International Security and Intelligence Programme (ISI) offers a unique opportunity to work with leading practitioners and academics from the security and intelligence communities while enjoying collegiate life that revolve around the historic Magdalene College in the heart of a city that dates back to the middle ages; cloistered courtyards, riverside views, ancient Dining Halls and the centuries old tradition of Formal Dining.


The 2019 programme fee comprises:

(1) Tuition £2,400 which includes:
A minimum of 45hrs tuition
Delegate pass to the 2-day conference and conference dinner
Access to the University Library
Academic and pastoral support

(2) Accommodation, Excursions and Entertainments which includes:
Single occupancy accommodation, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast for the duration of the Programme (meals are provided six days a week Sunday – Friday);
– Sharing facilities £1,976
– En suite facilities £2,156

2 Formal Dinners
A day trip to London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
A programme of extra-curricular activities

The £150 administration fee will be deducted from your Programme fee if you are accepted and refunded if your application is not successful.

If you receive Financial Aid from your home institution, payment of your Programme fee can be deferred until the release date of your Financial A £500 non-refundable deposit will be requested, which secures your place on the Programme until your Financial Aid release date. 


Key Theme Lectures & Seminars

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

  1. Writing the Official History of the Joint Intelligence Committee
  2. Intelligence Cooperation and Security Assistance in the Global South
  3. The Future of the State in the Middle East
  4. Intelligence History: from Spies to Said
  5. Legal and Ethical Dilemmas of Targeted Killing

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

Registration Deadlines

The deadline for applying to ISI is 9th June. However, ISI operates a rolling admissions process, so early application is strongly recommended.

For additional information

Email: isi [at]
Website :