Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Intelligence and Security

Our main goal is to improve understanding of how intelligence and security services operate, how they are embedded in broader political, bureaucratic, and societal contexts, and how their methodologies can be complemented.

Damien Van Puyvelde

We are the largest group of researchers working on intelligence and security in the European Union. Our approach reflects ISGA’s interdisciplinary nature, and leverages political, historical, ethical, judicial, and methodological perspectives.


Our group teaches a range of theory and practice oriented courses at undergraduate level, including a Minor in Intelligence Studies, as well as a specialised track on Intelligence and National Security to Master’s students in Crisis and Security Management. We also host doctoral researchers developing projects on contemporary intelligence and security challenges. We have extensive experience delivering research-based insights to practitioners working in governments and beyond. You can learn more about our teaching offer on this document.


Research on intelligence and security should contribute to academic knowledge, inform public debate and support the development of professional practice. Research on the functioning of intelligence organisations – in governments and beyond –  and the processes they work with, such as collection, analysis, and management of compartmented structures, also contributes to accountability of and (public) oversight over these organisations. Furthermore, research on methodology not only contributes to the improvement of the analytical capabilities of intelligence and security services, but also to the broader and more fundamental issue of how not to miss relevant relationships in the domain of security and threats.

Since 2021, our research group has been augmented with a team of Policing Studies researchers as part of the collaboration agreement with the Dutch National Police. This team seeks to establish a more academic foundation for the current knowledge surrounding police studies in the Netherlands and beyond, as well as broadening and enriching that information.

Sub Themes

Our group conducts research on the following themes:

  1. Politics, governance and management of intelligence and security.
  2. The judicial, ethical, and societal norms that affect intelligence and security.
  3. Methodological issues in intelligence collection and analysis.
  4. Intelligence and security challenges in Europe and the Global South.
  5. Covert influence and intelligence cooperation in international relations.

Related research

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