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Case study Syria


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies.


The current conflict in Syria, which emerged from the fall out of the Arab Spring and the War in Iraq, may perhaps present the most pressing security threat both in the region and at an international level. This irregular conflict is an example of an intentional threat (security) and has significant security implications at a national, regional and international level.
This course will provide an introduction into the Syria conflict, and explores its dynamics and security implications. Students will examine and discuss how the conflict developed in Syria and how it became interconnected with the rise of ISIS.
Students will explore the Syria case by applying knowledge and methods from relevant disciplines. By following the logic of interdisciplinary thinking, students will learn how to understand and explain important facets of the Syrian conflict in terms of causes, factors driving and sustaining the conflict, as well as the effects and implications for governments and citizens. Students will learn to review an event, or set of events, through the lenses of various academic disciplines and gain the ability to apply this skill in other cases.

Course objectives

After this course students are able to:

  • Acquire knowledge and comprehension of several basic concepts and/or methods in: (1) History, (2) International Relations and Law; (3) Economics; (4) Sociology and Psychology and 5) Anthropology.

  • Acquire knowledge and all-round understanding of irregular conflict and the security threats affecting vital interests in modern societies (security).

  • Select, weigh and integrate concepts and methods from relevant disciplines in order to gain a deeper understanding of a real-life security case.

  • Carry out an interdisciplinary assessment of a security case and present findings in an academic paper.

  • Show awareness of social and cultural differences and ethical dilemmas in this case study.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide Bachelor Security Studies you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

14 lectures and self-study

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 42

  • Self-study hours (including assignment): 235

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

Academic Paper:

  • 40% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit of a fail is possible.

  • Resit will take the same form

Written Exam

  • 60% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit of a fail is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2019-2020 remain valid during year 2020-2021.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrolment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. mr. E.E.A. Dijxhoorn & dr. J. Shires