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Modern Information Society

Government, Security, and Conflict in the Cyber Age


This three-day training session is organized and delivered by Oxford University faculty. It will discuss in detail the challenges and opportunities of the modern information society. These are not solely or even primarily technical in nature – they also involve elemental questions of political culture and institutions, public policy, ethics, law, and diplomacy. The course will merge technical insights with theoretical and empirical knowledge in the political and social sciences to clarify the nontechnical aspects of cyber security and e-government issues. Instructors will draw from and apply social science research to explain how innovations in information technology affect the security and welfare of states and citizens. Classroom lectures will demystify the technical rudiments of cyberspace while developing students’ theoretical and applied understanding of the workings of the information society in Estonia and elsewhere. A simulation exercise will develop practical insights and recommendations for professional action. Participants will receive formal accreditation of participation from Oxford.



September 4-6, 2015


Tallinn University of Technology, Ehitajate tee 5, Tallinn, room U01-202 (auditorium behind the main hall)


The course is open to university students at all levels of instruction (BA, Diplomas, Masters, PhD etc.)

Credits given

Formal accreditation of participation from Oxford University


 EVENTBRITE open until 02.09.2015



Lecture topics include the following

  • Computing and Networks: The Basics
  • Code as a Weapon: Worms, Viruses, and Stuxnet
  • International Security and Conflict in the Cyber Domain
  • Rules of War in Cyberspace
  • Cyber security and the Age of Privateering: A Historical Analogy
  • Origins and Development of the Estonian State Information Society
  • Principles and Functions of the Estonian State Information System
  • The Future of the e-State: Digital Embassies and e-Residency (tbc)



Teaching Staff


The course’s teaching staff comprises faculty and researchers based at Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations and Department of Computer Science as well as lecturers from Tallinn University of Technology.



Course Aims


The training session will discuss innovative uses of information technology in Estonia and elsewhere to identify, clarify, and model how changing configurations in cyberspace influence the structures and processes of political systems within and across national borders.


Classroom lectures and discussion will allow students to relate information society issues with their primary studies in other fields. Practical simulation exercises will enable students to translate this new knowledge into concrete insights and recommendations for professional action.


The final day of the course consists of a cyber crisis simulation exercise. This will apply classroom understandings to the management of a major practical event, such as an international cyber crisis or a breakdown in state information systems, requiring a coordinated response across government agencies as well as between the public and private sectors.



Learning Outcomes


The Oxford training sessions will provide the following learning outcomes:


  • a basic technical understanding of the origins, structure, and workings of cyberspace generally and of state information systems specifically
  • a historical grasp of the emergence of the information society – especially the political and institutional factors that produced its rapid growth in Estonia or that impede its expansion elsewhere
  • a broad understanding of the benefits and opportunities of the information society for public health, welfare, national security, and international influence
  • a strong grasp of the nature, sources, and categories of cyber threats to national and international security as well as political stability
  • a comprehensive knowledge of the variety of policy and organisational responses to those threats within public and private industry as well as in national and international society


The simulation exercise will provide the following learning outcomes:

  • a basic familiarity of the operations and management of critical computer systems
  • an understanding of how theoretical knowledge in the political and social sciences may apply to the resolution of practical challenges facing the information society
  • an awareness of shortcomings in current capacities as a basis for developing new and improved information services

NOTICE: Upon completion of the course, a small number of students will be invited to participate in the research and publication activities of Oxford University’s Cyber Studies Programme.



Evaluation Criteria


The course is provided on a Pass/Fail basis. Students will be expected to complete short written assignments, demonstrating a general grasp of the issues and problems discussed in the readings and lectures. Full attendance is necessary to receive the course accreditation and credits (but registered students are not required to attend all lectures and the exercise).



Students´ comments on the previous training

  • “The presentations were remarkably high-class when it comes to quality”

  • "Haven't had any experience about cyber security or such an interest in politics...So, this course really was very interesting and gave me a lot of new information, thank you!"

  • "I am very pleased and thankful for all the lectures. Well-structured, understandable and broadened my views a lot"

  • “As a lawyer, I found the interdisciplinary approach very useful and would definitely recommend to continue with the approach as well as with training sessions in general, since there have not been any similar cyber-related events organised in the past”

  • "Interesting course, bravo!"

  • "Something very new and exciting to me"

  • "I have never experienced something so practical before, very well organized"

  • "I have never had this kind of exercise, but I sure hope I will [again] in future"

  • "Questions that were asked [were] amazing, they were related to events that were happening. I loved it"

  • “The simulation was also a fun experience, which illustrated perfectly the complexity of the problems at hand”


 A course funded by the European Social Fund and offered by Oxford University’s Cyber Studies Programme in collaboration with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Tallinn University of Technology.



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