nl en

Case study Syria


Admission requirements

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

This course is also open for inbound exchange students. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the course; priority will be given to direct exchange partners of FGGA. For more information about the application procedure for exchange students, please contact the FGGA International Office at


The current conflict in Syria, which emerged from the fallout of the Arab Spring, has for over a decade raised a complex set of security problems both in the region and more widely. This irregular conflict includes many examples of intentional (security) threats, and has significant security implications at a national, regional and international level.
This course will provide an introduction into the Syria conflict, exploring its dynamics and security implications. Students will examine and discuss how the conflict developed in Syria and how it became an internationalised civil war, generating security debates around terrorism, migration, gender, digital technologies, war crimes and international law, among others. Students will examine the trajectory of the Syrian conflict in relation to other political developments in the region post-Arab Spring.
Students will explore the Syrian conflict by applying knowledge and methods from relevant disciplines. By following the logic of interdisciplinary thinking, students will learn how to understand and explain important facets of the Syrian conflict in terms of causes, factors driving and sustaining the conflict, as well as the effects and implications for governments, citizens, and other actors. Students will learn to review an event, or set of events, through the lenses of various academic disciplines and gain the ability to apply this skill in other cases.

Course objectives

After this course students will be able to:

  • Acquire knowledge and comprehension of several basic concepts and/or methods across multiple disciplines, such as: History, International Relations and Law; Economics; Sociology; and Psychology.

  • Acquire knowledge and all-round understanding of irregular conflict and the security threats affecting vital interests in modern societies (security).

  • Select, weigh and integrate concepts and methods from relevant disciplines in order to gain a deeper understanding of a real-life security case.

  • Carry out an interdisciplinary assessment of a security case and present findings in an academic paper.

  • Show awareness of social and cultural differences and ethical dilemmas in this case study.


On the right side of programme front page of the e-guides you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

14 lectures and self-study

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 42

  • Self-study hours (including assignment): 235

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

Academic Paper:

  • 40% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher

  • Resit of a fail is possible.

  • Resit will take the same form

Written Exam

  • 60% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher

  • Resit of a fail is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2020-2021 remain valid during year 2021-2022.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles will be announced on Brightspace.


First year Bachelor students are placed and registered in the course and a workgroup by the programme or study coordinator and the OSC. Other students who need to take this course need contact the programme coordinator/study coordinator and will be placed in a workgroup.

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

Access to Brightspace is necessary because the syllabus and other information about this course can be found here. Furthermore, announcements and modifications will be communicated via Brightspace. Students have the responsibility to stay informed and are thus advised to regularly check Brightspace for updates


Dr. J. Shires & Dr. mr E.E.A. Dijxhoorn


For exceptions, please contact the Board of Examiners.