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Organized Crime and its Undermining Impact on Society


Admission requirements

  • Only students enrolled in the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • This course only offers a place to a maximum number of 38 students.


This course focuses on the effects organised crime has on society and what this means for tackling it. A distinction is being made between social, economic and criminal effects.

Organised crime is one of the essential contested concepts in social science. The central question is to what extent and in what way organised crime is actually organised: is it a hierarchy, a market or a network.

Organised crime comes in many forms: illicit markets (especially drugs), human trafficking, money laundering, white collar crime, to name a few. We will cover some important forms but will concentrate on the illicit drugs market.

It is important to distinguish between organised crime as such and its impact on society. In the Netherlands, we refer to this impact through the concept of undermining. We will explain this concept. Important questions are to what extent organised crime does have undermining effects on society and to what factors these effects can be traced.

Finally, the question arises what this means for the role of government in tackling and combating organised crime. What are the consequences for law enforcement? What is the role and responsibility for public administration? What does it mean for their interplay?

Furthermore, we will make a comparison between some European countries.

Course Objectives

After finalising this course, students are able to:

  • reproduce the most important theoretical concepts for the study of organised crime and undermining.

  • analyse the undermining impact organised crime has on society.

  • apply the theoretical concepts in a comparative study of organised crime and undermining in European countries

  • critically discuss the concepts of organised crime and undermining.


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

This course consists of seven lectures, including guest lectures, workgroups and general debates.

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 140 hours:
21 Contact hours
119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.

Assessment method

Group paper:
25% of final grade
Grade can be compensated
Resit not possible

Individual paper
75% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course
Resit possible

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 calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
Students are also permitted to resit the 75% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2022-2023 are no longer valid during year 2023-2024.

Reading list

A selection of 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 8 March 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.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


Prof.dr. Pieter Tops