nl en

Digital Crime


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘Cybersecurity Governance’, can take this course.


The problem of digital crime goes far beyond the crimes committed on the Internet: nowadays, almost all crime can leave digital traces. The Internet creates unique opportunities for criminal activities, and legislators are always chasing a moving target as they try to bring laws up to speed to address new online threats. Despite all the pressure to harmonise legal frameworks to tackle digital crime, efforts to develop international solutions are slow and problematic. Finally, nobody can expect governments and their agencies to fight digital crime alone, but what is the role of private industry and other stakeholders in this fight?

A critical review of existing knowledge and research is essential for making informed policy decisions to address the problem of digital crime. The course, therefore, focuses on the research skill of critical evaluation. Students will learn how to assess the validity of existing research by critically evaluating the way the knowledge was produced. This includes, inter alia, the assessment of research methods, design, and the reliability of empirical data. Students will be able to assess the validity of research outcomes in policy fields relevant to their future professional or academic environments, and shape new research agendas for emerging policy topics, not only in the area of digital crime, but in other fields throughout their careers.

By critically reviewing existing academic research and applying it to current challenges faced by policymakers, legislators, private industry and other stakeholders in tackling the problem of digital crime, students will acquire comprehensive understanding of this complex phenomenon, related problems and possible solutions. Students will learn from academic literature and policy documents, reports and case studies. In addition to lectures, the course will employ interactive learning, such as debates, serious games and group discussions combined with individual learning.

Course Objectives

After finalising this course, students will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate, based on advanced academic knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, existing research on digital crime by assessing research design, methodologies, and validity and reliability of empirical data;
  2. Understand the main methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches taken in the study of digital crime;
  3. Understand, based on advanced and comprehensive knowledge, the challenges related to digital crime and mechanisms to tackle this problem;
  4. Apply existing academic research, concepts and common methodologies to real-life cases of digital crime and its developments;
  5. Critically assess policy and legal frameworks to tackle digital crime from a conceptual and methodological point of view and reflect on related normative issues and possible side effects of these frameworks;
  6. Build, present and defend well-grounded arguments in oral discussions about the problem of digital crime and possible solutions to tackle it;
  7. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments.


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

A combination of interactive lectures and activating workgroups (two sessions per week). In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research, and the relevant concepts and methodologies. In the workgroups, students will practise research design and methods by applying the concepts, testing theories, and analysing empirical material. The workgroups will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several compulsory formative (non-graded) assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is not mandatory, but highly recommended in order to pass the course. Active participation during the sessions therefore is strongly recommended to pass this course.

Total study load 280 hours:
contact hours: 42.
self-study hours: self-study, assessments and examination: 238.

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection paper as preparation for the final reflection paper. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Assessment method

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.

Individual assignment (essay)

  • 35% of total grade

  • Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

  • Resit possible

Group assignment

  • 30% of total grade

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)

  • Resit not possible

Final assignment

  • 35% of total grade

  • Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

  • Resit possible

Additional, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

Students will also be permitted to resit the 35% individual assignment and 35% final assignment if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The group assignment needs to be compensated.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2021-2022 remain valid during year 2022-2023.

Reading list

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


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 14 December 13.00h.

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

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


dr. Tatiana Tropina