The  origin  of  the  Group  was  in  small  seminars  held  in  Nuffield  for  some  years  after Michael  Herman  retired  from  government  service  and  was  given  a  niche  there  in  1987.  After  a  successful  international  conference  on  intelligence  in  1999  the  group  was  reformed  on  a  larger  scale  at  St  Antony's  College,  and  met  there  for  a  three year programme financed by a generous benefactor.  After a subsequent year at Rhodes House it  migrated  to  Nuffield  College  in  2004.    It  hears  papers  on  'intelligence',  as  part  of academic  'intelligence  studies'  and  their  connections  with  political  science,  international relations, and modern history.  The main focus is understanding on intelligence's place in the modern world, in the UK and overseas. The  Group  seeks  to  have  both  official  and  academic  speakers,  and  particularly  values papers on foreign intelligence systems and on subjects that link 'intelligence studies' with other academic fields. The  main  programme  normally  combines  a  late afternoon  paper and seminar by a visiting speaker with a dinner and discussion afterwards.  The aim is to hold these meetings twice a term.  Dinner attendances vary between 15 and 30.  Speakers in  recent  years  have  included  two  JIC  Chairmen  and  a  Chief  of  Defence  Intelligence, other  senior  members  and  ex-members  of  British  and  foreign  intelligence  organizations, MPs  and  others  with  particular  intelligence  connections,  and distinguished  intelligence scholars.  

Occasional  small  afternoon  meetings  are  also  held  in  term-time  on  more specialised topics, often to present recent research on subjects of intelligence history.  An important activity of the Group is also to hold a one day 'expert' workshop each year on a subject of particular interest.  Since these began the subjects have been  Intelligence  and the Media (jointly with the Reuters Foundation), Intelligence and Ethics (including a presentation on interrogation),  and  a  Reassessment  of  Bletchley  Park's  Wartime  Contributions  and Current Lessons.

Attendance  is  by  invitation,  but  the  net  is  cast  quite  widely.    Those  attending  include current   senior   university   members   and   students,   retired   practitioners   and   other government   officials,   and   officials   and   academics   from   London   and   elsewhere. Speakers' expenses are reimbursed and overnight accommodation can be provided. The Director is Gwilym  Hughes, Fellow and  Bursar of  Nuffield College. The  Founder Director is Michael Herman, Associate Member of Nuffield.  A Steering Group is chaired by Dennis Trevelyan, formerly Principal of Mansfield College. 

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