Course Syllabus

The Enemy Within: Spies and Espionage in the Cold War DIS Logo

Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

History, International Relations, Political Science

Faculty Members:

Martin Cleemann Rasmussen and Matthias Bjørnlund /

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo -

Program Assistant:

Shannon Schooley -

Time & Place:

Tuesday & Friday, 11.40 - 13.00, F24-306

Description of Course

Espionage organizations play an important role in modern society. They aim at providing security from terrorism, among many other things. But how did these organizations come into being, and how have they developed over the years? Who are the people staffing them and what do they actually do? This course aims at introducing students to the objectives and effects of intelligence and espionage throughout modern history. We look back in history to where it all began, and we assess the rising importance of the intelligence communities and organizations in modern societies. We will focus mainly on 1) the organizational level through case studies 2) the ideological/political level through the prism of how and why the Western and Eastern blocs fought the Cold War with agents, double agents, intelligence, and propaganda and 3) the individual level through the concepts and practices of loyalty and betrayal: why would anyone choose to become the ‘enemy within’?

Learning Objectives

After finishing the course, students should have an overall command of the methods and problems related to the study of history in general. They should possess a thorough understanding of the bipolar world that existed during the Cold War; of the reasons for the clash between the ideologies of communism and democracy; of the institutional dynamics of espionage; and of the human actors who make up the world of intelligence.

Master of Arts (History, University of Copenhagen, 2005). Department for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Copenhagen 2003-2005. Editor and translator on Author and co-author of books, articles, and book chapters on historical and conceptual aspects of genocide. With DIS since 2011.

Martin Rasmussen

MA (Russian and History, University of Copenhagen 2004, graduated on Civil-Military relations in Russia, 1993-99). Associate professor at the Royal Danish Officer Academy (2011- ) and educator at the Royal Danish Defence Academy (FAK), Senior Advisor NordGEN at the Nordic Council of Ministers 2005-2009 on Russia and the CIS, Exchange Student, Odessa (Ukraine), and St. Petersburg (1996-1997), Associate Professor Nordic Council of Ministers Petrazavodsk State University 1998. Various positions as translator and as leader on many visits to Russia by Danish and foreign students and tourist groups as well as on several battlefield tours. Lectures to the general public as well as an analyst on Russian matters in Danish news media. With DIS since 2015. Also DIS-classes on terrorism and counterterrorism, EU-US relations, and hybrid warfare.

Mathias Bjørnlund

Master of Arts (History, University of Copenhagen, 2005). Lecturer, archival historian, and author of books, articles, and book chapters an various historical subjects. Has been teaching the Holocaust and genocide, the Cold War and espionage, modern European history and politics, conspiracy theories and historical controversies, etc., at DIS since 2011.



Selected readings from this class:

  • Philby, Kim. My Silent War: The Autobiography of a Spy. The Modern Library, 2002- to be picked up during the Arrivals Workshop
  • Bacon, Edwin. Contemporary Russia. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
  • Bartlett, Roger. A History of Russia. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 1-10, “The Geographical Setting.”
  • Gaddis John Lewis We now know – Rethinking Cold War History,
  • Linder, Douglas O. "Trial of the Rosenbergs: An Account." Online publication
  • Marx, Karl: The Communist Manifesto (excerpts).
  • O’Toole, Honorable Treachery: A History of U.S. Intelligence, Espionage and Covert Action from the American Revolution to the CIA.
  • Christopher, A &Mitrokhin,V. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books, 2011,
  • Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
  • Documents from the Klaus Fuchs case. Online publication

Field Studies

  • Wednesday, 13th of March, 13:00-17:00 - Visit to Carlsberg
  • Wednesday, 10th of April 8:30-12:30 - Visit to Stevns Fort

Guest Lecturer

"Russia and the information war - business as usual?" Jon Kyst, European External Action Service (TBC)

"Intelligence in the Baltic during the Cold War" - Commander (Ret.) Royal Danish Navy Poul Grooss (TBC)  

Approach to Teaching

This course will be a combination of lectures and a discussion-based course using case studies, manual simulations as well as group-work. 

Expectations of the students 

As the course is partly a discussion-based course, case studies and manual simulations, a high degree of student participation, preparation and engagement is required. Throughout the course, you will also have to develop and practice your own critical thinking by analyzing texts, concepts as well as specific cases to understand the complexity of the field of terrorism and counterterrorism.

Manual simulations: This class will use a number of manual simulations, which aims to increase the students’ awareness and understanding of issues, dilemmas and decisions involved in EU-US relations. Manual simulations include elements from leadership training, roleplaying and crisis management. All students are expected to prepare VERY THOROUGHLY for each of the simulations and it is expected, that students actively engage in all simulations and indulge in the roles assigned. Manual simulations constitute 25% of the overall grade.






Analytical assignment


Manual simulations


Thesis Statement


Final paper


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:



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