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Terrorism and Counterterrorism


Admission requirements

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

This course is also open for inbound exchange students. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the course; priority will be given to direct exchange partners of FGGA. For more information about the application procedure for exchange students, please contact the FGGA International Office at


The threat of terrorism remains a priority on political agendas worldwide. Yet, for all the attention that this phenomenon has gained, many aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism remain poorly understood. This course has two main objectives. First of all, it aims to provide students with a thorough introduction to the most pertinent aspects of 20th and 21st century terrorism and counterterrorism. Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the field, students will acquire an understanding of key issues ranging from an historical overview of modern terrorism to the macro, meso and micro-level causes of involvement in this form of political violence. Secondly, the course will familiarise students with the various opportunities and obstacles for conducting interdisciplinary research on these subjects. The overall goal is to enable students to critically assess and participate in ongoing debates on terrorism and counterterrorism from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

The course begins by providing an overview of what terrorism is, focusing on the subjectivity at the heart of many interpretations of the concept and attempting to gain clarity through comparisons with others forms of political violence. This conceptual discussion is complemented with a detailed look at terrorism’s recent historical development. Building on this basis, each subsequent week of the course will focus on a particular aspect of terrorism and counterterrorism. The course progressively introduces a broader array of topics and deepens students’ understanding of both the issues at stake and recurring concerns related to the production and interpretation of knowledge on those subjects.

Throughout the course, active student participation is expected in order to engage in critical reflection on the subjects being discussed.

Course objectives

After this course students are able to:

  • Acquire knowledge and an all-round understanding of current manifestations of (international) terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of several basic concepts and/or methods in:

  • International Relations & Political Science * Sociology and Psychology * Law and Criminology * Communication and media * Public Policy and Governance

  • Critically assess and reflect on current terrorism-related phenomena;

  • Analyse the specific methodological, theoretical and conceptual challenges in researching terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • Understand the state-of-the-art of contemporary research on (counter)terrorism;

  • Construct and articulate arguments about terrorism and counterterrorism in both professional, public and academic settings.


On the right side of programme front page of the e-guides 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: 223

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

Individual presentation

  • 15% of final grade

  • Grade must be compensated

  • Resit not possible.

Written paper

  • 40% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher

  • Resit of a fail is possible.

  • Resit will take the same form

Final exam with mc questions

  • 45% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher

  • Resit of a fail is possible.

  • Resit will take the same form

Students will also be permitted to resit the written paper (40%) and/or the final exam (45%) if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50.

Transitional arrangements
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2020-2021 remain valid during year 2021-2022. Students who did not meet the course lab attendance requirements in 2020-2021 are required to attend the course labs in 2021-2022.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles will be announced via Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. 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. Registration for courses and workgroups in uSis is possible from 15 July, 13.00h.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course

Access to Brightspace is necessary because the syllabus and other information about this course can be found here. Furthermore, announcements and modifications will be communicated via Brightspace. Students have the responsibility to stay informed and are thus advised to regularly check Brightspace for updates.


Dr. Bart Schuurman

Dr. Yannick Veilleux-Lepage


For exceptions, please contact the Board of Examiners.