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Intelligence & Counterterrorism


Admission requirements

Only students of 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 surveys the ways western intelligence agencies have dealt with the main security challenges posed by terrorism in the last decades. The course will first introduce students to key concepts to understand the role of intelligence in national security decision-making, and more specifically in mitigating the threat posed by terrorism. We will use these foundations to analyze an intelligence failure and reflect on the limits of intelligence in countering terrorism. The course will then explore some of the core means intelligence agencies use to support counter terrorism: from collection to analysis to action. We will also consider broader questions relating to the governance of intelligence in liberal democracies.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Identify the roles of intelligence in countering terrorism

  • Understand key challenges facing intelligence services in countering terrorism

  • Critically assess the development and performance of western intelligence services

  • Communicate arguments and analyses individually and as a group


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 7 seminars. Classes will be dedicated to (guest) lectures and group discussion. Students are required to participate actively in class discussion.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss more than 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

Assessment for this course is based on two assignments:

  • Group assignment, 30% of final grade
    Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  • Individual Paper, 70% 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.
Students are also permitted to resit the 70% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

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 8 March 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.


Damien Van Puyvelde

Office hours by appointment