Dr Jess Shahan

Teaching Fellow in International Relations

School/Department: History Politics and International Relations, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5062



In 2019, I joined the School of History, Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester as a Teaching Fellow in International Relations. I teach on a range of modules in Politics and IR and currently convene the third year module Politics of Nuclear Weapons. I also convene the MA module of US Foreign Policy. I supervise a range of dissertation topics at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including through our Distance Learning degrees. My current research focuses on experiences of intelligence work, intelligence organisations as employers, gender, and the use of first-person sources in intelligence history. 

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of North Florida in 2008 with a major in History and minor in Gender Studies. In 2010, I was awarded a fellowship for a two-year Erasmus postgraduate course, the Matilda programme MA in Women’s and Gender History. I completed my first year at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, attended a summer session at Sofia University in Bulgaria, and then completed the final year of my MA degree at the University of Nottingham. In 2019, I earned my PhD in International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales with my thesis Spying Gender: Women in British Intelligence 1969-1994. I was awarded a Doctoral Career Development Scholarship. While at Aberystwyth, I also worked as teaching staff in the Department of International Politics and in the International English Centre. 


My current research interests include:

  • Women’s and gender history
  • Intelligence organisations and their history (with emphasis on the latter half of the 20th century)
  • Gender, labour, and employment
  • The role of memoirs and the public sharing of experiences in shaping perceptions of intelligence work
  • Contemporary intelligence organisations and diversity within intelligence employment



Shahan, J., (2021) “‘Don’t keep mum’: critical approaches to the narratives of women intelligence professionals”, Intelligence and National Security, 36:4, 569-583. DOI: 10.1080/02684527.2021.1893077

Shahan, J., (2019) “Spying gender: women in British intelligence 1969-1994”, PhD thesis, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University.

Shahan, J. (2016) “Book Review: David Burke, The Spy Who Came in From the Co-op: Melita Norwood and the Ending of Cold War Espionage”, Intelligence and National Security, 31:3, 452-454. DOI: 10.1080/02684527.2015.1008211




I have supervised a range of undergraduate and master's level dissertations in topics within or connected to politics and international relations. Example areas: 

  • Gender (current issues, political representation)
  • Intelligence and/or military studies
  • Terrorism and counterterrorism
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Media (including traditional and new media, social media)
  • Memoirs and personal narratives
  • SDGs and development; health policy
  • Post-Cold War international order


Modules that I currently convene or have contributed to while at Leicester:

  • PL1016 Order and Disorder: International Relations 1989 to the Present
  • PL1116 Case Studies in Post-Cold War (Dis-)order
  • PL2019 The Making of Contemporary US Foreign Policy
  • PL2021 Sex and Gender in Global Politics
  • PL2029 Politics of the Global South
  • PL2094 Political Analysis 1: Understanding Political Science Research
  • PL3129 The Politics of Nuclear Weapons
  • PL7076 US Foreign Policy
  • PL7161 Post-Cold War World Order
  • DL PL7503 Gender in Global Perspective
  • DL PL7508 Post-Cold War World Order

Press and media

I am willing to discuss the following topics but this is not an exhaustive list: gender and diversity within intelligence organisations; contemporary intelligence organisations history and employment; women's memoirs and other forms of personal narratives (particularly if related to intelligence work).


I am a member of the following organisations:

  • Women's Intelligence Network (WIN)
  • North American Society for Intelligence History (NASIH)
  • British International History Group (BIHG) - since 2016 I been a committee member of the BIHG
  • British International Studies Association (BISA)
  • International Studies Association (ISA)


Previous Conference Papers:

  • 'Can the spy novel be rescued from the men?: Women’s authorship in insider spy fiction', presented at the International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention (virtual panel) 29 March 2022.
  • 'The Nameless Club: MI5’s Women and First World War Memory’, presented at the British International History Group (BISA), 28th Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh, 8 September 2016.
  • 'Women’s Revolts, Mumsnet and the Intelligence and Security Committee: Creating a History of Women’s Employment in MI5’, The British International History Group, University of Kent, 10 September 2015. 
  • 'Studying the Spies: Researching women’s employment in British Intelligence’, CIISS 7th Biennial Conference on Intelligence, Public Confidence and Security, Aberystwyth University, 4 June 2015.
  • 'Writing controversial memoirs: Examining key debates on intelligence memoirs in the United Kingdom’, The British International History Group, The London School of Economics and Political Science, 6 September 2014.
  • 'Women in Intelligence: A case study on researching personal histories within the British Security Services’, War and Intelligence Studies: Challenges for the 21st Century, BISA Sponsored Postgraduate Conference, Aberystwyth University, 3 June 2014.
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