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Introduction to cyberspace


Admission requirements

Admission only after intake, please see our website.


Aiming to avoid overlap with other courses (elective as well as mandatory courses) that are taught later in the curriculum, the content of this course is limited to the introductory stage. It seeks to offer students an understanding of what constitutes cyberspace, how its components work and why they matter. The following topics are included.

In a first step students will explore what cyberspace entails by conceptualising cyberspace and analysing several definitions of it. The three-layer model for conceptualising cyberspace forms the guide for this course. Secondly, fundamental concepts that are central to understanding and reasoning about cyberspace are covered, as well as the link to cyber security and related risks. This is combined with (a) practical demonstration(s) and exercise(s) related to cyber-attacks and defense.

The course includes the basic technical aspects of the functioning of ICT systems, including the Internet. The history of the Internet, its basic architecture and governance are therefore the building blocks of this course. Questions that are dealt with include: What is a network? Who are the stakeholders of the Internet? How do we deal with the borderless nature of the Internet and of cyberspace?

In this respect, the basics of (cyber) risk management (assessment and mitigation) approaches are equally touched upon. Since these topics will elaborately return in later courses, only the basics of cyber security in organizations are covered. Also the fundamental particularities of critical infrastructures and their interdependencies (cascade effect) are included.

This course functions as a baseline for further courses and offers students the bigger picture of cyberspace, enabling them to put its components (technical as well as governance aspects), their functioning, their vulnerabilities and their protection into perspective.

Course objectives

When finalizing this course successfully, participants will have:

  • basic knowledge & understanding of what cyberspace entails (the world of "cyber activities") and why it is a complex socio-technical system;

  • basic knowledge & understanding of the various sub-domains of cyberspace and the interwoven nature of virtual and real worlds (including cyber-physical systems);

  • basic knowledge & understanding of how Internet works, the use and abuse of the Internet and the dependency on IT services.

When finalizing this course successfully, participants will be able to:

  • identify and explain the components, layers and subdomains of cyberspace and understand how different disciplines can contribute to study its complexity;

  • identify and explain the basic functioning of applications of Internet;

  • identify and reason about various cyber risks (intentional and unintentional) and what impact they result into (e.g. legal, economical and, political impact).


7 days from 9.30 until 17.00 in February and March 2021.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, seminars, exercises, class discussion
Lecturers: Dr. Els De Busser, Dr. Tommy van Steen, Dr. Stefanie Roos (TU Delft) and others

Assessment method

Assignment 1

  • 30% of final grade

  • Grade must be compensated

  • Resit not possible

Assignment 2

  • 30% of final grade

  • Grade must be compensated

  • Resit not possible

Written exam

  • 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

Reading list

Compulsory literature and literature for further consultation will be announced via Brightspace.


No registration is required for lectures and exams.


Dr. Zeki Erkin

Chantal de Groot, study coordinator


For more information see our website.