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Cyber Threats


Admission requirements

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


Cyberspace has become an indispensable part of our economies, a critical driver for innovation, and an essential part of our social lives. Cyberspace connects individuals, organisations and nation states globally, and enables us to communicate, share information and engage in myriad (joint) activities in virtual space. It spans the globe and has obliterated borders, or so it seems. While cyberspace has brought a wealth of benefits and opportunities, it has also generated new risks and challenges, especially in relation to safety and security.

In this course students will get an overview of the biggest cybersecurity challenges states, organisations and individuals currently face. The course starts with an introduction to cyberspace: what is cyberspace, and what are the basic technical architectural elements and processes in/of this ecosystem? This is followed by a conceptualization of cyberspace and cybersecurity. What do we mean by these concepts, and why are they worthy of academic study?

Next, students will learn about a number of different governance challenges for cyberspace. The course shows that cyber risks appear at various levels (local, national and international) and demand responses from governments, but also private companies, collectives and individuals. The course will focus on different key subfields in relation to cyber threats and cover the main actors that play a role in relation to these subfields. The following subfields will be discussed:

  • cyber crime

  • cyber warfare

  • cyber espionage

  • critical infrastructure protection

  • fake news and disinformation

Since cyber risks are often intentionally or inadvertently caused by humans, the course will place emphasis on the role of human behaviour, critically assessing the oft-heard claim that “human beings the weakest link” in the defence. Focus will be given on the motives of actors working in ‘the defence’.

Throughout, the course will address possible security strategies & tools at various levels (societal, organisational and individual level), which can be used to address particular risks and challenges, and it will provide benefits and shortcomings of all of them.

Course objectives

  • The student will acquire basic knowledge and understanding of what cyberspace is, what cybersecurity is, and which key cybersecurity challenges are most important today.

  • The student will acquire basic knowledge of the governance of the Internet.

  • The student will be able to identify actors and their behaviour in cyberspace.

  • The student will be able to identify intentional and accidental cyber threats, will have basic knowledge of the key cyber incidents of the past decades, and will be able to critically assess the impact of these incidents.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

14 plenary lectures
4 course labs in smaller groups (attendance is mandatory)

Course Load

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 54

  • Self-study hours: 220

  • Examination: 6

Assessment method

  • Mid-term exam: 30%

  • Final exam: 70%

More information will be available on the Blackboard page.

Attendance for the course labs is mandatory. Missing more than 1 session will lead to a fail. In case of a fail no grades will be given, only a fail. This implies that a resit will not lead to a pass.

Compensation rule
Only assessments with the weight of 30% and lower are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs 30% or less in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.50. In addition, assignments weighing up to and including 30% are not re-sitable, meaning that if one failed an assessment of 30% or less one is not allowed to redo it and that assessment must be compensated by the other assessment(s).

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit will take the same form.

Transitional arrangement:
Students who participated in the course “Cyber Threats and Risk Management” in academic year 2018-2019 but did not manage to pass the course will take part in the following transitional arrangement:

  1. For students who did not pass both the mid-term and final exam in the academic year of 2018-2019 this year’s weights (30% and 70%) will apply.
  2. If you did not pass either the mid-term or the exam last year you will need to do its equivalent. Last year’s weight (40% or 60%) will be applied to that component.


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

Information on readings will be announced on Blackboard.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

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 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 there.


Course coordinator dr. Tommy van Steen.