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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 will provide students with practical experience in collecting and managing data by (1) elaborating and implementing different data collection strategies; (2) using theoretical and conceptual insights to analyse empirical cases; (3) interpreting and communicating relevant findings in a form accessible to a professional audience. Furthermore, by working in groups to create and manage a large-scale dataset, students will gain practical experience conducting Open-Source Intelligence research. These are transferrable skills that students will be able to apply to a range of professional contexts.

Second, the course will introduce students to key theories that have informed understandings of contentious politics and violent social movements. The course will draw from empirical research on problematic social movements across a range of contexts, with a view to better understanding the various manifestations of far-right extremism and terrorism across Europe and North America.
The course will make extensive reference to ongoing and past academic debates in the field of social movement research. Emphasis will be placed on the appraisal and incorporation of robust empirical findings across different contexts, and the importance and associated challenges of applying these insights to policy. By the end of the course, students are expected to understand the main conceptual, theoretical, and empirical underpinnings of violent social movements and apply these insights to at least one country case.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss, based on advanced knowledge, key theoretical and conceptual frameworks related to social movements and apply them to real-life cases and phenomena in a conceptually and methodological rigorous manner.
  2. Reflect on violent social movements as a political, social, and mental construction and critically evaluate the effect of the social, political, and cultural context and complexity on the perception of terrorism and political violence.
  3. Identify and analyse new developments and phenomena related to violent social movements.
  4. Seek evidence and draw from empirical or theoretical materials for an informed (and, when applicable, critical) judgement.
  5. Engage in public debates about the issues related to (the study of) terrorism and political violence.
  6. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments


On the right side of programme front page of the studyguide 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

The course contains three assessments that are closely interrelated:

Individual assignment (Coding Exercise)

  • 15% of final grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50).

Group assignment (Coding Exercise)

  • 30% of final grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)

Individual final assignment (Risk Assessment Report)

  • 55% of final grade

  • Resit is possible

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit takes the same form

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

The calculated overall course grade must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course. If the calculated overall course grade is lower than 5.50, students are also permitted to resit the 55% Individual assignment.

In the case of written assessment methods, the examiner can always initiate a follow-up conversation with the student to establish whether the learning objectives have been met.

Transitional arrangements
Passed partial grades obtained in the year 2022-2023 reamain valid during year 2023-2024.

Reading list

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


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams).
Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.
Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 12 July 13.00h

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

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.


All communication should be directed to course coordinator Dr. Sarah L. Carthy.
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.