Simulation Exercise

Module leaders: Professor Anthony Glees and Dr Julian Richards
Spring Term (15 units)

This module consists of two discrete parts: a ‘tactical’ intelligence exercise and a ‘strategic’ intelligence exercise. Both involve extensive open source research by students on real-time, real-world problems which would attract the interest of intelligence and/or security agencies in western states.

1. ‘Tactical’ Intelligence Exercise

Students are given a fragmentary set of information from different sources. The information relates to a fictional ongoing counter-terrorist intelligence operation. Within a certain time limit, as a group students must work together to analyse and interpret the information and recommend specific courses of action for the next stage of the investigation. The operation runs in phases, between each of which new pieces of information come in. Some of these help to clarify the picture, while others are blind alleys or are spurious. At the end of the operation, the group must make a policy recommendation about whether and when to take executive action.

Post-operation, the groups discuss with the tutor how the operation went, difficulties that were faced, whether the judgements and actions taken were the right ones and whether the eventual recommendation felt based on sound assessment. Examples can be drawn from real counter-terrorist operations, both successful and not, and comparisons made with the likely intelligence and assessment challenges faced in those operations by the analysts involved.

2. ‘Strategic’ Intelligence Exercise

In this exercise, the students follow a simulated JIC exercise. An initial assessment is given to the group, drawn from multiple sources on a strategic intelligence question of current significance to the UK, such as an assessment of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, or of Russia’s intentions with regard to regional politics and energy security. This phase reflects the Current Intelligence Group (CIG) stage of the process, whereby an initial pooling and evaluation of multiple sources of intelligence on the question is made and agreed upon by different agencies. Within the group, each member is assigned a nominal topical lead.

In the second phase, the initial assessment is distilled and reduced to a precise – and short – assessment of the situation and policy recommendation for the Prime Minister, which goes forward to the full JIC.

At a final session, group presents its findings to the plenary group in a short, direct and effective way. The group and panel of tutors debate and critique the conclusions and recommendations as to their validity and clarity based on the available ‘intelligence’.


  • A formal paper, of around 15 minutes’ duration, delivered to fellow students (30%)
  • A written 1,500-word essay on the subject of the ‘Strategic’ Exercise (70%)


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