The British Intelligence Services in the public domain

  • Abigail Julia Blyth

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The thesis explores ‘what are the avenues through which the public are provided with a portrayal of the British Intelligence Services and, what depictions of the British Intelligence Services do these provide? Undertaking an empirical approach throughout, the thesis begins by using the intelligence cycle to assess who constitutes the British Intelligence Services, and what portrayals the Big 3 – the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) provide of themselves on their websites and by speeches made by the respective heads. This is compared to the portrayals of the British Intelligence Services provided by key avenues of information, namely, the Government, academia, news journalism and popular culture. Whilst all the avenues provide an overall positive portrayal of the British Intelligence Services, with a consistent emphasis upon acting legally and ethically, due to the diversity of these avenues, each provides a subtly different depiction of the British Intelligence Services. Due to the pervasiveness of secrecy surrounding the British Intelligence Services, these avenues are in an influential position of informing the public domain about the intelligence realm. But, by finding a balance between openness and secrecy and increasing their own public engagement beyond the websites which require an individual to know they exist and actively access them, the British Intelligence Services could limit the role of the avenues by having a more cohesive and ongoing relationship with the public domain
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJenny Mathers (Supervisor) & James Vaughan (Supervisor)

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