nl en

Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Security, Safety and Justice, taught at The Hague by lecturers from Leiden University. The course can only be taken within the framework of participation in the minor SSJ.

Students who have already completed the Coursera MOOC “Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory & Practice” are still obliged to attend the lectures and complete all the class assignments to pass this regular course.


Terrorism has arguably been one of the defining factors of our age. It frequently makes headlines, threatening or attacking governments, private businesses and ordinary citizens. In many parts of the world, it has even been one of the most prominent threats to peace, security and stability. But what exactly is terrorism, how can we study it, and how can we limit the impact of it on society? This and more will be discussed in this course.

Week structure
1. Definition of terrorism
2. Doing research on (counter)terrorism
3. Five assumptions on terrorism
4. Five assumptions on counterterrorism
5. Dealing with terrorism
6. Foreign fighters

This course uses blended learning. This means that there will only be two classical lectures and 2 seminars. The other weeks, students have to study the material themselves by way of watching video lectures at home. We expect students to actively prepare for this course.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the notion of terrorism as an instrument to achieve certain political and ideological goals

  • Interpret terrorism definitions and argue whether or not certain act(or)s align with these definitions

  • Analyse (counter)terrorism phenomena, events, and policies based on the appropriate theoretical models and insights

  • Judge the relevancy and effectiveness of counterterrorism policies and strategies

  • Evaluate counterterrorism policies and formulate recommendations for improvements


The timetable will be displayed with a link on the website, blackboard and on the front page of this minor programma.
The schedule 2018 will be published asap.

Mode of instruction

This course will employ a flipped classroom methodology, which entails students studying a series of video lectures with in-video quizzes at home as preparation for the classes. Each of these videos will focus on a specific core question within terrorism studies. Furthermore, the class sessions will consist of class discussions and guest lectures.

Class format:

  • Weekly video lectures on Coursera

  • Opening lecture together with the minor Global Affairs in week 1

  • Two workshops in smaller groups together with the minor Global Affairs in week 3 and week 5

  • Final symposium together with the minor Global Affairs in week 7

  • Paper feedback sessions (attendance is optional)

Course Load

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

  • 18 hours lectures and seminars

  • 7 hours videos

  • 115 hours studying – work on assignments

Assessment method

  • Midterm assignment (40%)

  • Final exam (60%)

Attendance during the opening lecture, two workshops and final symposium is compulsory. For each missed class, an extra assignment needs to be made.

Late hand in penalty: 0,5 minus per day, and after seven days we do not accept papers any longer.

Resit of the final exam and midterm will take the same form.


Blackboard will be made available at least a week before the start of the first class.

Reading list

Edwin Bakker, Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory & Practice (Leiden University Press, 2015)

Additional articles on current affairs relating to terrorism & counterterrorism: t.b.d.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course. Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.




  • This course is part of the minor SSJ and Global Affairs; lectures are combined.

  • All sessions and workshops will be in English.

  • Midterm assignments need to be written in English.

  • Lectures take place in The Hague and are mandatory.