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Countering (Violent) Extremism


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 36 students.


Counter-terrorism seemed like a pretty straightforward affair during the years of the so-called ‘Islamic State’. In the past few years however, what constitutes terrorism has become a question that is much more difficult to answer. With the rise of right-and leftwing extremism and anti-institutionalism it is essential to know the difference between activism and extremism but also the grey area between activism, nonviolent and violent extremism. That forms the basis of countering (violent) extremism.

This course will introduce students interested in extremism, radicalization, terrorism and resilience to the concept of violent extremism and policies designed to counter it. It will explore the concept of CVE as it has emerged in the policy discourse and the promise of CVE as a more comprehensive and proactive approach to the complex phenomenon of violent extremism. The interdisciplinary course will take an in-depth look at CVE as a relatively new area of policy and practice both at a national and international level, and focus on strategic initiatives to counter terrorism.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the concept of violent extremism and its relation to activism, terrorism and the process of radicalization

  • Obtain advanced knowledge and understanding of the multidisciplinary field of CVE and terrorism studies and its relation to the social sciences, history, political sciences, and public administration.

  • Analyse the causes of terrorist and extremist ideologies

  • Critically assess approaches to countering (violent) extremism

  • Analyse and assess real-world cases of preventing and countering violent extremism in relation to the broader debates in terrorism studies


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.

Assessment method

Assessment for this course is based on two assignments:

  • Group grade for presentation (25%) – the students will be assigned to small groups with whom they are expected to prepare a presentation in week 7 on topics assigned in week 2. Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

    • Individual grade for take home exam (75%) – in week 8, students will receive a take home exam. The take home exam consists of 20 questions relating to the course contents (assigned literature, guest lectures and discussions) and one longer essay question where students are asked to reflect on a statement in 1500 words. Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course

Students are also permitted to resit the 75% 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. Please note: you do not have to register for the exam code of Countering (Violent) Extremism. All students who register for this elective will be registered for the exam by the administration at the start of block 4. A message will be sent via uMail once this has been done, as students still need to confirm their attendance for the exam afterwards.

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.


Liesbeth van der Heide

Office hours by appointment