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Radicalisation: Advances in experimental research


Admission requirements

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

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

  • Students can only register for one elective.


Experimental research allows the researcher to maintain a high level of control over an environment, creating the necessary conditions for causal relationships between variables to be established. In radicalisation research, however, one finds that the field is overwhelmingly dominated by exploratory, descriptive, or quasi-experimental methodologies. While these approaches can and do offer initial, exploratory insight into the complex phenomenon of radicalisation, an overreliance ultimately impedes progression towards theoretical models that can infer causality.

This course will introduce students to the burgeoning field of experimental research in radicalisation, drawing from experimental social and cognitive psychology as well as insights from criminology. Throughout the course, contemporary methodological and ethical issues will be considered and each week, new sets of experimental methods and findings will be presented. The implications of these lines of enquiry for counter-terrorism policy and practice will be discussed.

Course objectives

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

  • Understand experimental research methodologies and distinguish them from other research designs.

  • Explain the relationship between evidence and theory, and contrast this with contemporary methodological challenges in the field of radicalisation research.

  • Appraise a broad range of experimental research and relate it to the work of practitioners tasked with preventing and countering radicalisation.

  • Develop a proposal which identifies ethical challenges.


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 7 seminars. Classes will be dedicated to lectures and group work. Students are required to participate actively in class discussion. Attendance is mandatory.

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.

Total study load 140 hours:

  • 21 Contact hours.

  • 119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc

Assessment method

Assessment for this course is based on three assignments:

Individual exam

  • 40% of final grade

  • Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course.

  • Resit is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Mid-term assignment

  • 30% of final grade

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

  • Resit not possible.

Group presentation

  • 30% of final grade

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

  • Resit not possible.

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 40% individual exam.

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 arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2022-2023 are no longer valid during year 2023-2024. All students are expected to enroll for an elective via MyStudymap on a 'first come first serve' basis.

Reading list

The literature will consist of academic articles and policy documents, links to which will be provided in the syllabus.


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 t.b.a..

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.

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


Dr Sarah L. Carthy

Office hours by appointment