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Organized crime and its undermining impact on society


Admission requirements

  • Only students enrolled in the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • This course only offers a place to a maximum number of 40 students.


This course focuses on the effects organized crime has on society and what this means for tackling it. A distinction is being made between social, economic and criminal effects.

Organized crime is one of the essential contested concepts in social science. The central question is to what extent and in what way organized crime is actually organized: is it a hierarchy, a market or a network.

Organized crime comes in many forms: illicit markets (especially drugs), human trafficking, money laundering, white collar crime, to name a few. We will cover some important forms but will concentrate on the illicit drugs market.

It is important to distinguish between organized crime as such and its impact on society. In the Netherlands, we refer to this impact through the concept of undermining. We will explain this concept. Important questions are to what extent organized crime does have undermining effects on society and to what factors these effects can be traced.

Finally, the question arises what this means for the role of government in tackling and combating organized crime. What are the consequences for law enforcement? What is the role and responsibility for public administration? What does it mean for their interplay?

Furthermore, we will make a comparison between some European countries.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students are able to:

  • reproduce the most important theoretical concepts for the study of organized crime and undermining.

  • analyse the undermining impact organized crime has on society.

  • apply the theoretical concepts in a comparative study of organized crime and undermining in European countries

  • critically discuss the concepts of organized crime and undermining.


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

This course consists of seven lectures, including guest lectures, workgroups and general debates.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

Total study load 140 hours:
21 Contact hours
119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.

Assessment method

Group paper, 25% of final grade
Grade can be compensated, resit not possible

Individual paper, 75% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 75% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Reading list

A selection of 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.
The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.


Prof.dr. Pieter Tops