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Intelligence and Security Studies MA

Subject area: Politics and History Apply Full-time Apply Part-time
Mode of study

1-year full-time; 2.5 years part-time

PG Code


Start date


Intelligence and Security Studies MA


Please note the application deadline for this course is Friday 25th August 2017, any applications after this date will be considered on an individual basis, subject to course vacancies.

Upcoming webinars:

We regularly host online webinars to give you the chance to find out more about our courses and what studying at Brunel is like.

For a playback of our recent Intelligence and security Studies Postgraduate webinar, click here.

Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2016, students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2016/17 of up to £10,000. Find out more

About the course

Intelligence and security policy issues are now one of the fastest growing areas of academic and public concern, especially since '9/11' and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today more than ever before national governments, international agencies and most major international corporations have an identified need for staff with a strong grasp of intelligence and security issues who can also demonstrate first-rate skills of research and assessment.

Taught by the internationally respected scholars of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, backed up where required by practitioner expertise, the MA in Intelligence and Security Studies offers a unique opportunity for practical, policy-oriented graduate study of intelligence issues applicable across the private and public sectors around the world.

Attendance for lectures full-time: 2 days per week - for 24 weeks
Attendance for lectures part-time: 1 day per week - for 24 weeks (in each of 2 years)


  • This course will be of value to individuals seeking to go into security-oriented careers in both the private and public sectors. It is suitable to individuals engaged in the security professions who seek further qualifications and professional enhancement.
  • A distinctive feature of the course lies in its combining the rigorous study of intelligence and security policy studies with practical opportunities to develop intelligence skills through case studies and simulation exercises dealing with intelligence analysis.


Admissions and Course Enquiries
Web: Admissions Enquiries Information
Tel (before application): +44 (0)1895 265599 (Course Enquiries)
Tel (after application): +44 (0)1895 265265 (Admissions Office)
Contact Admissions or Course Enquiries Online

Course Director: Dr Kristian Gustafson

Course Content

The professionally-oriented course is offered on either a full-time basis, taught over two terms and a dissertation during the summer, or part-time basis taught over four terms with the dissertation completed during the summer of the second academic year.

The MA consists of both compulsory and optional modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.


Intelligence Concepts: Issues and Institutions

This module covers the core theoretical concepts in intelligence and principal intelligence production methods and processes in the first term. In the second term it examines how those processes are put into practice through the organisational structure of national intelligence agencies and communities.

Intelligence History: Failure and Success

This modules takes students through the history of the practice of intelligence from “Plato to NATO”, or ancient times to the modern days. It links political, social and technological factors into a greater understanding of the profession. The second term is largely student-led, individual students presenting case studies, improving their own historical understanding while developing their skills at formal presentations in front of critical audiences.

Contemporary Threats and Analytical Methodology

Students will survey the contemporary threats faced by the UK and other states. With the socio-political changes of “globalisation” as a point of departure, it seeks to analyse modern organised crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, and insurgency as complex and integrated threats to our security. In the second term of this course students undertake the Brunel Analytical Simulation Exercise (BASE), the jewel in the MA/ISS crown. It provides students with an opportunity to undertake a simulated intelligence analysis on a real-world subject. BASE is designed to emulate the interdepartmental assessment methods of the British Joint Intelligence Committee. It gives students a chance to apply hands-on analytical principles and methods they have learned abstractly in the other MA/ISS taught courses.

Intelligence and Security Studies Project


Intelligence Analysis Foundations, Methods and Applications

Counterintelligence and Security

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Special Features

The Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies is Britain's first academic centre dedicated to intelligence scholarship and policy-analysis. It includes one of Britain's most innovative scholars in the field, Dr Philip H J Davies, as well Dr Kristian Gustafson (director of the MA programme), an expert on covert action and military intelligence doctrine.

The newest member of staff is Mohamed Gaballa. An alumni of this course, he is a specialist in Structured Analytic Techniques, with a focus on Analysis of Competing Hypothesis.

The former senior military imagery analyst, Geoff Oxlee, OBE, joined BCISS as an Honorary Fellow and completes the core team.

Together, these scholars not only produce important original research, published worldwide, but actively contribute to the success of government and business in the UK.

The Centre, though, is an inter-disciplinary endeavour, and includes participation from some of the leading Brunel University London academics in the fields of cryptography, computer networking, imagery, economics and even law. Many of these experts already assist our teaching.

The centre also benefits from the assistance, from time to time, of various officials of Her Majesty’s Government.

The degree, therefore, benefits from practitioner input and insight as well as instruction by leading international academics.

Teaching and Assessment


All modules are taught on the basis of lectures, seminars and directed reading. Additionally, the second term Case Studies course is a student-led seminar programme in which participants present detailed case studies and are peer reviewed on their presentation skills. The second term Analytical Simulation Exercise will involve students working in groups in a simulated joint, all-source intelligence assessment modelled on the actual joint assessment processes in the US and UK governments. Students are assessed on a mixture of individual and group work.



The MA in Intelligence and Security Studies (MAISS) provides solid transferable skills in analysis and drafting, skills whose applicability cuts across a wide range of public and private pursuits. Our students have had great success in seeking employment once they have completed their course. Many have come from, and then continue to work for, government agencies in the UK and abroad — we have taught police, military, and other government officials from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Turkey, Japan, Jordan, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Botswana and several other nations beside.

Within the UK, students with no service experience have gone on to work for the British Security Service, the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Centres, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and other departments of government. Many students have noted to us that the innovative studies they undertook on our programme were important topics of discussion in their interviews. Those already in Government employment have successfully used their MAs to leverage promotion or commissioning.

Students who have sought work in the private sector have likewise had success. Former MAISS students have gone to work for large banks conducting market analysis, to large oil-industry firms, to large consultancies such as McKinsey & Co, to specialist private analysis firms such as MS Risk and cyber security firm Digital Shadows. Indeed, MS Risk have had such success with our graduates that they have offered to fund a prize for the MAISS student who writes the best dissertation, annually.

Overall, MAISS students have had a strong record of success in the years after their degrees.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2016/17 entry

UK/EU students: £8,350 full-time; £4,175 part-time

International students: £17,200 full-time; £8,600 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Entry Criteria 2016/17

  • A UK first or 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification with an understanding of the realities of academic intelligence and security study and the frameworks within which intelligence and security operations work.
  • Applicants with other qualifications or with relevant work related experience will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Applicants will be interviewed by telephone or in person.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU Entry Requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.