nl en

Integration Course: Online Deception


Admission requirements


In this first integration course, students will explore the problem of online deception from a multidisciplinary approach, with a special focus on impersonation. Impersonation refers to a type of deception whereby an actor uses another person’s identity for malicious purposes. In the online environment, impersonation is expressed through several types of cyber attacks, which each can lead to social, economic, and political harm for individuals and organizations. The main objective of this course is to prepare students to understand and critically address the complex and multifaceted problem of online impersonation from a variety of disciplines, drawing on insights from computer science, criminology, law and governance.

In the computer science lectures, the course explores the technical aspects of online impersonation, such as how impersonation is brought about technically, and the tools and techniques used by malicious actors. This will include a discussion of e.g. anonymisation techniques, spoofing and the role of social engineering.

In the criminology lectures, students will delve into various forms of online impersonation such as identity theft and romance fraud. Students will gain insight in the prevalence of these types of crimes and the ways in which criminological research can measure these. Furthermore, offender characteristics, motivations and crime scripts (modus operandi) will be discussed in light of criminological explanations. Students will also learn about the characteristics victims of online impersonation and the impact it has.

The law perspective will equip students with knowledge of the potential legal consequences for those who engage in this behaviour. They will examine the existing legal frameworks and the challenges of enforcing these laws in the digital context.

Finally, in the governance lectures of this course, students will examine the role of public institutions and, to a lesser degree, private organisations, in addressing online impersonation, the potential solutions for preventing and combating this problem, and the consequences when these attacks are linked to geopolitical interests.

Course objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe different types of online deception, with a specific focus on impersonation, including concepts, categories, measures, phases of the event, and impacts.
  2. Describe the prevalence and offenders and victims characteristics of different forms of online impersonation.
  3. Compare the theories from different disciplines that shed light on online impersonation.
  4. Recognize and discuss the role of actors and interventions, at national and international levels, involved in the prevention, detection and response to online impersonation.
  5. Classify and describe different technical, social, legal, and political responses to online impersonation.


Mode of instruction

Work forms: lectures

Assessment method

This course includes two assignments:

  • Mid-term: written assignment (30% of final grade). Resit not possible.

  • Final: written assignment (70% of final grade). Resit possible.

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.

Reading list



Dr. Olga Bogolyubova