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Questions for Willemijn Aerdts about the Minor Intelligence Studies

You’re about to start your minor at Leiden University. Make sure you are well prepared and get your studies off to a good start.

Willemijn Aerdts

We asked Willemijn Aerdts, Study Coordinator of the minor Intelligence Studies, several questions about the minor Intelligence Studies. 

What is the minor Intelligence about?

In this minor programme, you will learn about the structure, working methods, and the analysis techniques used by intelligence and security agencies in the Western world. Furthermore, during the programme you can choose to focus specifically on cyber intelligence, spy cases during the Cold War, intelligence failures, or the position and powers of intelligence services in the democratic legal order.

What kind of students are you looking for?

Enthusiastic students that want to learn more about both the organizations, their working methods, their analysis techniques, as well as the political, bureaucratic, and social context of intelligence and security services. Furthermore, we are looking for students that are both able to work independent as well as together with students with a different study background.

Students being able to, or looking forward to learning, to think outside the box. In the world of intelligence studies, it is key to be able to think like your opponent and to be ahead of the game. This is something we teach you during the minor programme with a set of special assignments.

What kind of interest does a student needs to have?

Would be good if you are interested in the security issues, as well close to home as in het outside world. Most of international affairs are also related to security. Furthermore, I would be great if you are looking forward to working together closely with students with a different study background, just as you will do later in life.

'The role of intelligence in policy and decision making is still to a large extent a ‘missing dimension’. Few people know what it actually consists of. In the light of its growing importance, we think it is important to strengthen our knowledge on intelligence and security services.' Constant Hijzen, assistent professor

What skills do you learn during this minor? And how can you use these skills in daily life?

The minor aims to offer students a balanced package in which theory and practice are combined. We will pay attention to global trends and challenges such as: the shift of political, financial and economic power to the East and its consequences for existing international institutions; climate change; pandemics; the new role of media in global events; scarcity of energy resources and the commodity markets; inter-state and intra-state conflict. Students will learn how to write a policy brief and a well-structured, clearly argued essay. Moreover we will use simulations to practise negotiation skills. These are fields of knowledge and skills that will come in handy in any discussion, pub quiz and career. Whether later in life you will become an engineer dealing with clients in the Middle-East or an economist at a multinational,  or a marketer, psychologist, lawyer, or any other profession, knowledge and understanding of how global affairs are conducted will be useful.

More information

You can find more information about this minor on the e-studyguide.
If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to  intelligencestudies@fgga.leidenuniv.nl.

What is a minor?

A minor is a structured package of topics with which you can broaden your knowledge and competencies or focus more sharply on a specific area. Most minors last a semester and will earn a student 30 credits, which is often equal to the total elective quota. However, given that for some programmes this total quota is only 15 credits, every minor can be ‘half followed’. In terms of their degree of difficulty, minors are mainly suitable for third-year bachelor’s students.

There are limited places available on minors and these are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. So make sure to apply on time. You can register via uSis from 1 May.

More information

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