nl en

Cyber Threats


Admission requirements

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


Cyberspace has become an indispensable part of our economies, a critical driver for innovation, and an essential part of our social lives. Cyberspace connects individuals, organisations and nation states globally, and enables us to communicate, share information and engage in myriad (joint) activities in virtual space. It spans the globe and has obliterated borders, or so it seems. While cyberspace has brought a wealth of benefits and opportunities, it has also generated new risks and challenges, especially in relation to safety and security.

In this course students will get an overview of the biggest cybersecurity challenges states, organisations and individuals currently face. The course starts with an introduction to cyberspace: what is cyberspace, and what are the basic technical architectural elements and processes in/of this ecosystem? This is followed by a conceptualisation of cyberspace and cybersecurity. What do we mean by these concepts, and why are they worthy of academic study?

Next, students will learn about a number of different governance challenges for cyberspace. The course shows that cyber risks appear at various levels (local, national and international) and demand responses from governments, but also private companies, collectives and individuals. The course will focus on different key subfields in relation to cyber threats and cover the main actors that play a role in relation to these subfields. The following subfields will be discussed:

  • cyber crime

  • cyber warfare

  • cyber espionage

  • critical infrastructure protection

  • fake news and disinformation

Since cyber risks are often intentionally or inadvertently caused by humans, the course will place emphasis on the role of human behaviour, critically assessing the oft-heard claim that “human beings the weakest link” in the defence. Focus will be given on the motives of actors working in ‘the defence’.

Throughout, the course will address possible security strategies & tools at various levels (societal, organisational and individual level), which can be used to address particular risks and challenges, and it will provide benefits and shortcomings of all of them.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students are able to:

  • acquire basic knowledge and understanding of what cyberspace is, what cybersecurity is, and which key cybersecurity challenges are most important today.

  • acquire basic knowledge of the governance of the Internet.

  • identify actors and their behaviour in cyberspace.

  • identify intentional and accidental cyber threats, will have basic knowledge of the key cyber incidents of the past decades, and will be able to critically assess the impact of these incidents.


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

Mode of instruction

14 plenary lectures
4 course labs in smaller groups

Attendance of the course labs is mandatory. If you miss more than 1 course lab you fail the course and won’t obtain a final grade.

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 54

  • Self-study hours: 220

  • Examination: 6

Assessment method

Mid-term exam

  • 30% of final grade

  • Grade must be compensated

  • Resit not possible

Final exam

  • 70% 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

Optional bonus for final exam (if exam is 5.5 or higher) to be obtained during the course labs.

Transitional arrangements
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2019-2020 remain valid during year 2020-2021. Students who did not meet the course lab attendance requirements in 2019-2020 are required to attend the course labs in 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. Tommy van Steen.