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Introduction to Cyber Security


Admission requirements

Admission only after intake, please see our website


This course places cyber security into a broader context and zooms out to study the notions that make up that broader context. Subsequently, the course zooms in to discuss the content of the notion cyber security, the security questions that it entails and how these are dealt with. Why is cyber security a security issue? And what kind of security issue is it then?

Aiming to avoid overlap with other courses (elective as well as mandatory courses) that are taught later in the curriculum, the content of this course is limited to the introductory stage. It seeks to offer students an understanding of the basic concepts in relation to cyber security. The following topics are included.

The course starts by discussing the meaning and the definitions of safety and security including the different types of harm, before the meaning and the definition of cyber security is studied. The latter is placed into the larger perspective of what cyberspace entails but also the context of safety and security is brought into this picture. Relations between safety, security, cyber security and cyberspace are explored in depth.

In a next step, the course zooms out to the concept of uncertainty. The possible responses to (or ways of dealing with) uncertainty include regulation. Special attention will therefore be paid to regulation and how this relates to cyber security. The notion and functioning of cyber norms completes this introduction into cyber security governance.

In a third step, the course zooms in on the governance of ICT systems – including critical infrastructures – and the Internet. The actors that play a role in governing ICT systems and the Internet and the questions and discussions that rise in this context are touched upon. The human factor in the context of cyber security is examined by discussing attackers, defenders and end-users, their motives and their roles. In that same respect, the rule of law and its relevance to cyber security, cyber economics and cyber terrorism are covered. Throughout the course, students will reflect on the technical and the legal questions raised in the context of cyber security, such as the confidentiality, integrity and availability (the traditional CIA triad) of data or systems, privacy, jurisdiction, encryption, disinformation and misinformation.

Course objectives

When finalizing this course successfully, participants will have:

  • basic knowledge & understanding of what cyber security means and how it relates to the notions of (un)certainty, safety and security;

  • basic knowledge & understanding of the different types of harm and the different responses to uncertainty;

  • basic knowledge & understanding of the technical and the governance related issues that surface in the context of cyber security;

  • basic knowledge & understanding of how the Internet is governed, how ICT systems and critical infrastructures in particular are governed and who the stakeholders are;

When finalizing this course successfully, participants will be able to:

  • identify whether cyber incidents are a safety or a security issue and explain why;

  • identify different forms of dealing with uncertainty;

  • analyze complex cyber security problems and link them to relevant theories, concepts and methods from different disciplines;

  • construct and articulate scientific arguments about the technical and governance related issues for cyber security and identify current discussions and relevant interests in this context.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, seminars, exercises, class discussion
Lecturers: Dr. Els De Busser and others

Assessment method

Assignment 1
*30% of final grade
*Grade must be compensated
*re-sit not possible

Assignment 2
*30% of final grade
*Grade must be compensated
*re-sit not possible

Written exam
*40% of final grade
*Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course
*Re-sit of a fail is possible.
*Re-sit will take the same form

Only assessments with the weight of 30% and lower are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs 30% or less in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.5. In addition, assignments weighing up to and including 30% cannot be re-taken, meaning that if one failed an assessment of 30% or less one is not allowed to redo it and that assessment must be compensated by the other assessment(s).

### Reading list

Compulsory literature and literature for further consultation will be announced via Brightspace.


No registration is required for lectures and exams.


Dr. Els De Busser M.I. Warner, Study Coordinator


For more information see the website see our website