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Social Movements and Political Violence


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘Governance of Radicalism, Extremism and Terrorism’, can take this course.


The course has two interrelated goals. First, the course gives students practical experience in coding and managing data, including (1) elaborating and implementing different data collection strategies; (2) by using theoretical and conceptual insights to analyse empirical cases; (3) by inferring recommendations from their results and communicating relevant findings in a form accessible to a professional audience. Students will also gain practical experience conducting OSINT research, working in groups to construct and manage a large-scale dataset, and will also gain a deep understanding of data science methods. These are transferrable skills that they will be able to use in professional contexts.

Second, the course will introduce students to contentious politics and violent social movement, focusing on far right mobilisation in Western Europe and North America. The focus will be on the comparative analysis of the causes and manifestations of the extreme and populist right across different countries and political contexts both offline and online. The course will introduce students to theories explaining individual and contextual conditions which facilitate far right mobilisation and political success.

The course will provide students with the theoretical and analytical tools necessary to tackle the panorama of North American and Western European far right politics. In addition, the course aims at mapping parties and social movements across countries, investigating their historical origins, ideological features, and the patterns of opportunity structures that led to their emergence. The course will make extensive reference to ongoing and past academic debates, as well as to journalistic reports, relevant online material, documentaries and political debates in the observed countries. By the end of the course, students are expected to master the main conceptual and theoretical issues concerning far right politics in Western democracies, they shall be able to recognise the key concepts to study political radicalism, extremism and populism and they shall be confident with at least one country case, in Western Europe or North America.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students are able to:

Research Skills
1. Identify different types of data collection techniques and discuss the factors affecting the choice of data collection method and the data collection methods used in qualitative studies.
2. Design a (small) research project; ask a relevant research question and choose accordingly the appropriate design and method; reflect on the limits and ethics of their research project.
3. Seek evidence, and to identify relevant empirical material; perform data collection in a rigorous way, using selected research methods and reflect on the validity and reliability of their data.
4. Analyse data by identifying empirical patterns from collected data and perform elementary analysis and link back their results to academic concepts and theories.
5. Discuss ethical considerations of data collection, the obligations of researchers, and implications of calls for data accessibility and research transparency for qualitative research.

Academic Skills
6. Understand, based on advanced knowledge on concepts, theories and analytical approaches, social movements and their dynamics and assess the approaches’ explanatory power by applying them to particular instances of violence in social movement.
7. Understand and apply the conceptual and theoretical foundations of far-right politics and draw on comparative empirical expertise on far-right mobilisations, electoral performances, and violent manifestations.
8. Understand the rationale and practices of a number of methods employed to study far-right politics, at the micro, meso, and macro levels.

Professional skills
9. Work in a team, collaborate to produce knowledge, and confront their viewpoints to develop collaborative solutions.
10. Transfer academic knowledge to professional settings, communicate their research results in an appropriate format to a professional audience and draw conclusions, make judgments and/or provide solutions to real-life problems or societal issues based on empirical data.
11. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments.


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

A combination of interactive lectures and activating workgroups (two sessions per week). In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research, and the relevant concepts and methodologies. In the workgroups, students will practice research design and methods by applying the concepts, testing theories, and analysing empirical material. The workgroups will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several compulsory formative (non-graded) assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

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: 280h

  • contact hours: 42h (sessions)

  • self-study (reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.): 238h

In this 10 ects course, 4 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection paper as preparation for the final reflection paper. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Assessment method

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 course contains three assessments that are closely interrelated:

1. Individual assignment (Coding Exercise)
15% of final grade
Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)
resit not possible.

2. Group assignment (Coding Exercise) 30% of final grade
Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)
resit not possible.

3 Individual final assignment (Risk Assessment Report)
55% final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course
Resit is possible

Additional, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

Transitional arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2021-2022 remain valid during year 2022-2023

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via MyStudymap or uSis. Registration for courses is possible from 12 July, 13.00h. 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.

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.


All communication should be directed to course coordinator Dr. Yannick Veilleux-Lepage.
Please send your email to

Please see the in-class office hours as your first point of call for questions and comments and use email only for particularly pressing issues.