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Extremism in a Global Context


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.


There is an urgent need to provide a clear assessment of the threat of violent extremism from an Islamist perspective but it is also important to ensure that students appreciate the rich historical, political and sociological issues within complex, interdependent, global societies. This course provides a comprehensive overview of the concept of political Islamism – from its historical origins to contemporary questions related to Islamist extremism across the world today. This includes exploring Islamism within the South Asia and MENA region and within the Western European context, where various ethnic minority communities are concentrated. It also permits a focus on issues of migration, diaspora and transnationalism. This course provides students with specific literature review skills relating to searching, sorting, prioritising, synthesising and evaluating scholarship. These transferable skills will support research that student will eventually undertake, it will introduce them to the current state of the field, identifying key concepts, theoreticians, publications and arguments. It also permits students to position their own work within the wider academic discipline. The understanding of Islamism will support students' intellectual as well as professional understanding, permitting students to apply the skills they have attained in the world of work as security excerpts, social researchers, policy analysts or specialist civils servants.

Course Objectives

This course engages with traditional notions of Islamism and political Islam and interrogates widespread presuppositions, perceptions and popular images of terrorists and the threats they pose, with a particular emphasis on the learning objectives of evaluating research through the review of literature. Students are expected to be equipped with the requisite tools to understand terrorism through sophisticated theoretical engagement with Islamism locally and globally.

After finalising this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand, based on advanced knowledge, sociological knowledge of terrorism and political Islam.
  2. Identify and apply key theoretical frameworks and methodologies to analyse how and why Islamism is sustained in a conceptually and methodological rigorous manner.
  3. Explore and analyse competing sociological and political science approaches to understanding Islamism and Islamist extremism.
  4. Explain and analyse the evolution of the debate on political Islam, particularly in the post-war period in both the Global North and the Global South.
  5. Critically study, search, sort, prioritise, synthesise and assess the body of knowledge on terrorism and political Islam, including a clear conceptual framework, a comprehensive account of relevant literature and assessment of its quality, a discussion of fundamental debates and gaps in knowledge, including a succinct synopsis and to present the results of this individual research project in the form of a written academic report (the literature review).
  6. 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 practise 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 lecture 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.

10 EC = 280 hours
Contact hours = 42 hours
Self-study hours = 238

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.

Mid-term assignment (Book Review)
30% of final grade
Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50),
resit not possible.

Mid-term assignment (Group presentation)
20% of final grade
Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)
resit not possible.

Final paper
50% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course
Resit is posible

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

Transitional arrangement
Partial grades obtained during the academic year 21-22 will still be valid in the academic year 22-23 but they will weigh towards the final grade in accordance with the weight given to partial grades in the year 22-23.

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.


dr. Tahir Abbas