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Violent Non-State Actors in International Affairs



This course will deal with the strategies, or lack thereof, of violent non-state actors in international affairs in the modern period.

Purpose: 1. The student will be introduced to the state of the art of strategic thought, with a specific focus on strategy pertaining to violent non-state actors.
Purpose: 2. The student will be trained in the competency of making and presenting, in an oral and written form, strategic analyses of non-state actor (strategic) behavior.

Content: This course will focus on the activities of non-state actors (NSAs) in international affairs, with specific attention for those NSAs using violence. The role and importance of terrorists, insurgents, warlords, bandits and pirates has increased over the last century or more. Civil or intra-state violence has far outnumbered inter-state conflict. Understanding and explaining the violent behaviour of NSAs currently forms a thriving area of research. The questions this course will deal with are: to what extent are these actors pursuing strategies to attain political ends, like classic strategic thinking would stipulate? Or are there perhaps other drivers of violence? To what extent are there links between NSA tactics and the pursuit of specific goals? Are these actors at all capable of operational planning, given the often fragmented or lacking nature of their organisations?

Methods of Instruction

One two hour interactive seminar session per week.

Study Material

The study material will be detailed at the start of the course


The course will be graded based on an individual presentation (40%) and an extended take home essay exam (60%).

Admission requirements



Friday 6 February until 27 March, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A11 (except 27 February 5B14, 20 March in SA41)
Friday 3 April until 22 May, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 5A37 (except 3 April building closed, 17 April in 1A11, 15 May building closed)


Master students that started their studies in September 2014 can register for one seminar in uSis from 10 December 12.00 hrs until 17 December 12.00 hrs.

For Master students that start their studies in February 2015 registration is possible from Wednesday 14 January 2015 12.00 hrs until Friday 23 January 2015 12.00 hrs. Please send an email with your full name, student number and preference for three seminars to the institute secretariat ( You will receive an auto-reply with a confirmation that we have received your e-mail. You will be informed about the seminars for which you have been registered before February 1.

Please note that elective seminars have a maximum capacity of 20 students and placement is subject to availability. Registration is on a first come first served basis.